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MELROSE, the Bronx — A group of girls and women from parts of the Tri-state region with the highest rates of coronavirus had to put the brakes on an environmental studies program they participate in because of social distancing.

However, it took them just a matter of days to take the brakes off, and restart. Even though their program is now online, they still manage to do hands-on activities — at home, individually. They’ve rebounded
Their story is part of a commitment by PIX11 News to helping our community get through, and past, the coronavirus crisis. Our program, called “The Rebound,” is the centerpiece of that effort.

The work of the Green Girls program embodies rebounding.

“On Friday, the 13th of March,” said Chrissy Word, referring to the day her outdoor education program had to shut down due to coronavirus issues,”[we left] not knowing when we would all see each other again.”

Word manages a program called Green Girls, for the City Parks Foundation. She said that her organization wasted no time bounding back.

“[We] shifted into high gear on Monday the 16th,” Word said, “and started putting together their distance learning programs.”

The distance learning brought together, through Zoom videoconferencing, the girls in the program. Madeline Recancoj is one of them.

“We still do fun activities that relate to Earth,” she told PIX11 News, in a Zoom video interview.

Recancoj is one of more than 100 middle school-age girls in the program. On beautiful spring days like Wednesday, they’re usually on site at the city’s rivers and lakes, learning about plants and animals, farming and composting, or other hands-on activities.

Now, they’re at home, online. That doesn’t stop them, however, from doing hands-on activities.

“They took coffee, coffee filters, paper towels, spoons,” said Word, describing a recent activity that a few dozen girls did via videoconference, “many things that can be gathered around the house, [including] toilet paper,” Word said. “Using all of these things, the girls are creating basically polluted water, and then creating filters” through which they purified the water.

Recancoj, 11, described another activity, done completely online, that she particularly enjoyed.

“We did bath bombs last time,” she said. It was easy, fun, and environmentally sensitive. “We took one-fourth cup baking soda,” she explained, and then slowly mixed in lemon juice “until it got a strong consistency.”

Recancoj said that she’d used her bath bomb right away.

Recancoj’s and Word’s stories show how programs like theirs, Green Girls, keep going ahead, rebounding into the summer, and beyond, thanks to a funding partnership with ING financial services company, which was cemented during the coronavirus crisis. It was announced earlier this month, on Earth Day.

Their program serves girls at four schools, citywide. The program is one of many, for boys as well as girls, operated by the City Parks Foundation. More information on their learning programs for young people is here.