NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- More than 100,000 students traded the beach for books this summer as the city kicked off its second year of "Summer Rising."
Mayor Eric Adams greeted students with a smile as they walked into PS 188 Friday morning.
Children in kindergarten through 8th grade will have the opportunity to explore art, recreation, and other activities as part of "Summer Rising," the city's largest summer program ever.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio launched the program last year to help kids catch up academically and socially from pandemic disruptions.
Adams expanded it as part of his promise to reduce crime.
"We are going to deal with the violence, but while we are doing that we are going to build a foundation to raise healthy children," Adams said.
The principal's union this week criticized the rollout of "Summer Rising," with some describing it as getting off to a rocky start.
"There are going to be snags along the way," New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks said. "We have more than 110,000 kids. This is a very large program, but we have a great team."
Parents say that team has made a difference.
"My kids have some where to go, enjoyment, stay out of the area," a parent said.
"They're a little behind in school, especially her brothers, so it's helping with that," another parent said.
City leaders also announced the start of the summer meals program, so every child can get a free breakfast or lunch at more than 300 sites this season.
As families recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, this free program also serves as much needed relief.
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News