From Taekwondo and cardio-boxing, Zumba and ballet folklórico to quieter pursuits like jewelry-making and watercolor painting, the BakerRipley East Aldine campus is teeming with children and teenagers this summer.

BakerRipley’s full slate of classes for youngsters and teens is starting its fifth week of summer classes in a 10-week program aimed at teaching new physical, creative and intellectual skills.

Alert to parents: The classes are basically full for the summer, but check with BakerRipley in August for similar fall programs. The organization also offers one-day fun: It’s planning an outdoor Summer Bash for kids on July 9. The event will feature water slides, Slip N Slides, and snow cones. A 6-foot tall, inflatable fire hydrant will spew water, giving East Aldine a New York City-style celebration of summer. 

One of the popular 10-week classes is “Spanish Literacy,” for English-speaking children with older relatives whose primary language is Spanish. The classes increase kids’ Spanish-speaking abilities at home and help with their study of Spanish in school.

The Taekwando and boxing classes are particularly popular with boys, said Rosie Hernandez, director of programs at BakerRipley East Aldine, while some boys sign up for dance for beginners. 

Other popular classes include a jewelry-making class, where youngsters are “really turning out some beautiful bracelets,” Hernandez said. Staffer Susana Pereira teaches the skills to creative and entrepreneurial kids who see selling their hand-made jewelry at flea markets or popup events as options.

Other youths turn out spectacular watercolor paintings in beginners’ and advanced classes taught by talented artist Ivania Berrios, who lives in Spring. She had been dropping her sons off for Taekwondo and boxing, then volunteered to teach painting. Now she is a paid instructor.

Berrios “was blown away by some of the students’ talent, so she started offering the advanced class,” Hernandez said. “She also teaches them drawing skills. And their work is just amazing.”

“There is a lot of talent in East Aldine,” she added.

Another popular class, offered at 6:30 p.m. Fridays, is Zumba for families.

“That’s just a lot of fun, where Mom, Dad and the kids can all participate together,” Hernandez said,

“The kids are very polite. And they are very excited to be learning,” she said. “It takes them away from the boredom of home. And it takes them off their phones and tablets.”

BakerRipley also offers GED classes for youths who didn’t finish high school. However, there is a two-year waiting list because they were not held during the pandemic.

— By Anne Marie Kilday