Reopen NYC: City's largest after-school program to resume in-person care

NEW YORK (WABC) -- 9-year-old Daniel Mattias says his favorite part of the after New York Edge is gym.

"They let us have fun in the gym a lot," Daniel said.

His gym time is so much fun and so special, it's something Daniel looked forward to even after it went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They're so excited because they don't look at their counselors as teachers or coaches, it's more like a family-based session," Christine Mattias, Daniel's mother, said.

That family is 40,000 kids strong.

They're all enrolled in what is the largest after-school program in New York City providing tutoring, arts, sports and wellness, and college prep programs in 130 different schools in all five boroughs -- all for free.

"We give kids every opportunity they need to succeed and we tap into their gifts and talents so they can be the next scientist, the next doctor, the next lawyer, the next whatever they want to be," New York Edge CEO Rachael Gazdick said.

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It's a concept the program turns into reality by exposing them to new things.

"We have relationships with the U.S. Olympic handball team, the knicks," Gazdick said.

But the real key to the program's success is actually much simpler.

"Mostly we love getting to know your children, and we love getting to know who they are and what they can become in the future," Gazdick said.

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Parents say they don't know what they would do without the program.

"I would be lost. I would be lost. Our program is great," Christine Mattias said.

In-person after-school activities begin September 29.

To find out if your child's school has the program and to apply, head to New York Edge's website.

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The sense of doom grew, especially after March 1, when the first confirmed case arrived in Manhattan. Soon, there was a hotspot in New Rochelle, and small curfews and containment zones across the area offered a hint of a frightening future we still thought we could avoid.

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