HomeNorth Brunswick SentinelNB NewsChildren have a field day while going to 'work'

Children have a field day while going to ‘work’

NORTH BRUNSWICK – A young girl asked Janice Larkin, confidential assistant to North Brunswick Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack, what the mayor does.

“He makes a lot of decisions for the town and the people who work here,” Larkin said. “He is an attorney, so he’s in court. When he’s here, he oversees all the different departments – the policemen, the parks department … what roads need to be fixed … making sure the playgrounds are safe for children like you to play on.”

Larkin said Womack also does: jokes.

“Mayor Womack likes to do pranks and jokes,” she told a group of girls participating in Take Your Child to Work Day on April 26 – especially after one youngster noticed a pig with wings hanging above Womack’s desk.

“He’s sometimes really silly,” Larkin said. “Like, if someone comes in and says they want a big raise, he’ll say, ‘When pigs fly,'” she said as she tapped the pig, after which the little girls giggled.

Each year, the North Brunswick Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Services (DPRCS) offers projects throughout the day to show the children of township employees what their parents do on a daily basis.

With 27 boys and girls divided into three groups, they first toured the municipal building, collecting pieces of crafts from each director they would later use for a gardening project.

Nicole Farinhas, Emily Kurlander and Brandon Baldini led the children in a game of bingo, trivia and riddles.

During a special visit with Tangie Cobb, the children learned how she loves to sing – and how she loves Cruella de Vil.

“I think it’s absolutely fabulous,” she said of her job in administration with the DPRCS. “I get to meet all of the parents in all of the programs. … I know everybody because I’m everywhere.”

Ecstatic that some of the children thought her job sounds exciting – since she said the other groups weren’t as enthusiastic – Cobb said her department enjoys celebrating everything: Halloween, Christmas, the menorah lighting, New Year’s, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, etc.

She also told the children how parks in town are used for much more than they realize – not just for sports and playgrounds, but to hold 5Ks, family reunions, picnics, concerts, plays and movies.

“Parks and recreation is such an important part of everybody’s life. We call it ‘vital,’ a vital part of the community, because you can do so many things,” she said. “Walking through nature, it is absolutely wonderful.”

Finished with their tour inside, the children were then brought outside for a gardening project with Sharon Lohse, a part-time DPRCS employee who also owns Mindful in Nature.

As a horticultural therapist, she helps connect people with nature.

“Nature makes people happy and healthy,” Lohse said. “Kids love when grass grows. It’s so exciting, they can’t believe they actually planted these seeds and they actually start to grow. … When they’re young, they really enjoy watching the process.”

Perhaps the highlight of the morning was when K9 handler Michael Campbell of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office brought Joker and Alec for a visit and mock search. The bloodhounds are used regularly to find missing and endangered persons with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and autism, he told the children.

He said that every time a person walks, he/she drops little follicles of hair or skin a bloodhound can trace. He said if one person walks past another person, he/she can drag the odor with them. Once the dogs put on their harness they know it’s time to work, which is like a big game to them, Campbell said, and then they go out and try to track down the scent.

With a pizza party and tour of the police department scheduled after lunch, the children were looking forward to their afternoon.

“I think it’s nice for the kids to see what their parents, and other people who work with their parents, do on a daily basis. It’s important to expose them to this,” said Farinhas, who is the recreation program specialist for the DPRCS.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.



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