Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. greeted the first group of Bronx kids headed to the inaugural session of “Camp Junior” as they boarded buses at the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club in Belmont.
“The best way to honor Junior’s life is to encourage youth to follow in his footsteps and that’s why Junior’s family worked with my office to create Camp Junior in his memory. This camp includes an anti-violence component so that we are arming these kids with the tools to overcome the gang culture which ultimately cost Junior his life. Thank you to Junior’s parents, the Fresh Air Fund, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and the New York State Parks Department for your collaboration on this incredible program,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Camp Junior is a free, two week, sleepaway Summer Camp for Bronx youth established in memory of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz. The program is administered by The Fresh Air Fund and serves Bronx children ages 9-13, and includes an anti-violence curriculum as part of its programming.
Leandra Feliz, mother of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz; Lisandro Guzman, father of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz; Carl Heastie, Speaker of the New York State Assembly; Erik Kulleseid, New York State Parks Commissioner; Fatima Shama, Executive Director, The Fresh Air Fund and Tim McChristian, Executive Director, Madison Square Boys & Girls Club joined Borough President Diaz to celebrate the opening of Camp Junior.
“The loss of Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz impacted the lives of so many in our community,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Heastie. “His death was the result of senseless violence, but by banding together in the creation of Camp Junior we’re honoring his memory and providing much needed resources for at risk youth in the Bronx, acting as a deterrent from gangs. As we continue to mourn the tragic passing of Junior, this camp will memorialize his life, honoring his memory for generations to come.”
“We are proud and honored to operate Camp Junior in partnership with the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Palisades Interstate Park Commission,” said Fatima Shama, Executive Director, The Fresh Air Fund. “Camp Junior will provide a safe, nurturing environment that encourages children from the Bronx to be engaged in and exposed to new environments, broaden horizons and experience ways to increase their confidence and skills. This collaboration and investment in Bronx youth will provide opportunities and interventions and help to reduce the violence affecting our young people which we believe can provide an alternative to joining gangs.”
More photos from the day can be viewed here.