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Putting a little love into the world

’Cuse Spot at Syracuse’s Wilson Park Community Center

Feb 19, 2013 — Article by: Judy Holmes

Student works with children on paper hearts

Gabriela Carrero jokes with 9-year-old Nazjae Howard as 6-year-old Amaree Green (purple shirt on the left)brings her completed paper heart to Carrero.

Six-year-old Amaree Green proudly holds up her paper mosaic heart after gluing on the final scrap of colored paper from the mounds of scraps scattered across the table. “How beautiful,” exclaimed Syracuse University sophomore Gabriela Carrero, arts and crafts workshop coordinator for the Third Annual ’Cuse Spot at Wilson Park Community Center, Feb. 19 to 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. each day.

About eight children, ages six to 10, gathered around craft tables tearing colored paper into ragged bits before gluing the bits to the hearts. When they return on Thursday, they will construct a picture of Earth. On Friday, they will surround the Earth with the hearts to create a paper mural that will grace a wall of the community center. 

“It’s important for kids to know that with love, we can do a lot of things,” says Carrero, who also volunteers for the after-school program at Wilson Park. “The mural is a visual way of expressing the power of love.” Carrero is a dual major in Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Visual and Performing Arts.

’Cuse Spot was co-founded three years ago by Sarah Walton, now a senior policy studies and geography major in The College of Arts and Sciences; and Christine Ward ’12, an alumna of The College of Arts and Sciences and a current graduate student in public administration in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. ’Cuse Spot is funded by Maxwell’s Public Affairs Program and a grant from SU’s Co-Curricular Fund.

With the help of some 40 SU students from across campus, Walton and Ward organize and host the four-day program at Wilson Park during K-12 February break. ’Cuse Spot consists of more than a dozen, student-led workshops ranging from arts and crafts, photography, and jewelry-making to workshops on languages and culture, computers, dance, drama, and basketball.  Sixty-nine children are registered for this year’s ’Cuse Spot, which includes a hot lunch prepared by children enrolled in the cooking workshop. 

'Cuse Spot cooking class. Children at the table on the left chop vegetables while children on the right measure ingredients for Sloppy Joes

'Cuse Spot cooking class. Children at the table on the left chop vegetables while children on the right measure ingredients for Sloppy Joes

On Tuesday, Allie Clarke, a freshman English education major (dual College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education), helped several children chop vegetables for a tossed salad while Walton taught two girls to make Sloppy Joes. “I like to cook,” says Khaliah Frankin, age 10. “I sometimes help my mom,” a sentiment echoed by her cooking partner, Yasmine Breland, age 13. Walton helped the girls read the recipe and figure out how to measure each ingredient for the Sloppy Joes as the smell of browning meat and onions wafted through the room. 

That smell was emanating from the kitchen where Marlei Simon, a junior nutrition major in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, was working over a hot stove browning the ground beef.  Simon developed the lunch menus for the entire week. Last Friday, Simon, Walton, and Ward shopped for the food needed to feed 70 people a day for four days. “It was crazy, but we had Marlei’s menus and just went up and down every aisle until we had everything we needed,” Ward says.
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Judy Holmes