PATERSON, NJ - Paterson mother of two Lourdes Fabian has done her best to keep her son Jace, 10, and daughter, Olivia, 4, learning and active in the months since classrooms have been shuttered. Her system, as she described it to TAPinto Paterson Tuesday, including an hour of schoolwork at a time, and then 20 minutes of fun, seemed to work well.

“I think I bought every board game there is,” she joked. Even with this, as well as visits to Garret Mountain and an even longer road trip to Alabama, Fabian said she was excited to get a call from the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) to stop by the Great Falls Teen Center to pick up JUST PLAY! Bags.

Donated by Alexandra’s Playground, a non-profit organization launched in memory of Alexandra Vitale who lost her life in a sailing accident in 2008, the drawstring bags were full of fun, including a mini soccer ball, frisbee, jump rope, exercise band, and a puzzle book. 

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All of it, Andrea Vitale said, selected in coordination with the organization’s youth board to enable kids to be “active and safe close to home.” Also included in the bag, a packet of sunflower seeds, another reminder of Alexandra. “It’s like giving a little bit of her all over the world.”

With 30 playground builds under their belts, including eight in Paterson, the Vitales are no strangers to helping get kids active. Each project, they say, is constructed in the spirit of play of their daughter who was just three years old when they lost her. This latest extension of their efforts is another reflection of their efforts “get kids outside to engage.”

“I’m really happy that NJCDC could once again link with Alexandra’s Playground to bring play and joy to Paterson kids—especially during this pandemic,” Bob Guarasci, Founder and CEO of NJCDC said of the giveaway that provided 125 bags.. “What’s particularly beneficial about this project is that it’s providing kids with fun activities to enjoy outdoors—and in so doing making summer as normal as possible. We’re grateful that Alexandra’s Playground continues to bless Paterson kids with their generosity.”

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