“Everyone Loves to Learn”

By Helena Touhey

Local Kids Showcase their Summer Experiences with FabNewport

Youths during one of FabNewport’s summer programs. | Photos Courtesy of FabNewport

Dozens gathered at the Florence Gray Center on Thursday afternoon for the “FabFair” hosted by FabNewport. The fair was a showcase of everything area youths have been learning through the organization’s summer programming, which ran for six weeks. Focus areas included ocean activities like surfing and sailing; art projects that involved upcycling old objects and giving them new life; sports, including a group that spent the summer golfing at Green Valley Country Club in Portsmouth; farming and gardening; hiking and having outdoor adventures; storytelling and self-care. 

“Our motto is ‘we go places, we spread joy, we leave’,” said Niko Merritt, who was involved with the self-care portion of the programming and is the founder and director of Sankofa Community Connection, one of the community partners. “We’re teaching them to find joy everywhere we go.”

Some highlights of the summer from the youths there Thursday included an upcycled bread box which, when opened, revealed a hidden Fairy Land, complete with ample pixie dust (read: glitter). There was also a trio of youths who spent time gardening at a plot in Portsmouth, organized in collaboration with AgInnovation, where each had a different highlight to report: watering, weeding and harvesting, respectfully. And for those youths who spent the summer with the sports camp, learning to sail (with help from Sail Newport) was a highlight, along with learning to surf (thanks to lessons at Surfer’s End offered by Gnome Surf). 

“Everyone loves to learn,” said Steve Heath, the CEO and co-founder of FabNewport, which he started in 2013 and which is based at the Florence Gray Center in the city’s North End. The mission of FabNewport is “to inspire the maker in all of us” and its vision is one where all students “have the skills, confidence and commitment to positively impact their communities and make their lives.”  

A central component of FabNewport’s focus is “creating access for people and families that don’t have access,” said Rachel Dewey, the organization’s Deputy Director. 

The goal of the summer programming especially is to connect youth with the area’s “rich array of cultural, educational, recreational opportunities,” as well as with people living and working in the community. As a program for the event explained, “these experiences open our young people’s hearts and minds to new possibilities and plant the seeds from the to grow a Positive Future Vision grounded in community and the reality of their emerging competencies and their integrated identity.” 

About a hundred kids participated in the summer camp, some of which is an extension of after-school programming that exists during the school year. Altogether, thirty-five community partners came together to make the summer programming possible. 

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