A morning of outdoor fun featuring music, crafts and water activities will cap off the summer for children in the East Aldine community, who gladly gathered in classrooms – of all places – for learning new skills from cardio boxing to watercolor painting.

BakerRipley is holding its Fun in the Sun summer festival on Saturday, July 10, from 10 a.m. to noon. The outdoor party will include music, food, crafts, face painting, and outdoor water activities.  

After a year of remote, at-home schooling, children and parents in the East Aldine area were eager to participate in the summer classes offered at the BakerRipley community center in the Town Center at 3000 Aldine Mail Route Rd. Classes were in such great demand that staff had to add a few classes to the more popular offerings, including guitar lessons. And there were plenty of kids who got a kick out of Taekwondo classes.

“I do think that the kids were happy to be in classrooms with each other, after a school year where they weren’t together,” said Rocio Witte, program director for the BakerRipley East Aldine Center. 

Parents may have been even more eager to get kids out of the house. Some parents, however, participated in classes with their kids, since several dads signed up for cardio-boxing to combat post-pandemic pounds.

The guitar classes offered by area musician George Mendez were an especially popular draw for children, with two age groups filling every available space, Witte said. 

The classes were offered for children from 5 to 9 years old, and for pre-teens 10 to 14.

Watercolor instruction was another popular class, as children learned techniques for creating frame-worthy images in an encouraging environment. 

BakerRipley, which also offers classes and activities for seniors and adults, will announce its fall schedule of classes at a community Health Fair and Open House on August 21. The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and people can register for classes that day,

In the meantime, BakerRipley is offering free wifi services through a partnership sponsored by Comcast, every Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Comcast Lift Zone also offers free access to computers during those hours. People who want to use the free service can visit the Youth Lounge or Café, Witte said. 

 Dozens of other East Aldine area children participated in the High Meadows Branch Library’s summer reading program. Because of the advanced planning required for the program, the Harris County Public Library’s branches offered a remote, on-line summer reading program to keep children occupied and engaged in reading during the summer months. 

The library building is still a hub of activity, even though it’s only operating at 75 percent capacity.

The “Tails and Tales” online summer reading program has included family-friendly videos on Facebook, which range from magic shows to pajama story time featuring librarian Ms. Krystle in her PJs, reading The Three Little Pigs as she curled up next to a stuffed version of Clifford the Big Red Dog. 

The Houston Food Bank also is offering free food boxes for kids, each Monday at 11 a.m., when readers may visit to retrieve their “prizes” for completing books. Children can get “a little toy” or a free book for a certain amount of reading.

Librarian Jane Holt said some avid readers have already completed the reading program. 

“We have some really fast readers,” Holt said. 

Holt said the staff is “still being very careful” because of the Covid 19 pandemic. 

“We really want to take care of the patrons,” Holt said.

There is still plenty of time for children to sign up for the reading program, which concludes Aug. 16. 

For information about the summer reading program, visit https://www.hcpl.net/branch/high-meadows-branch-library. The library branch is located at 4500 Aldine Mail Route Road.

— by Anne Marie Kilday