A new group in Verona hopes to build more than just plastic towers and houses.
The 4-H Lego Club made its debut at the Church of the Holy Spirit July 2, as 15 children flocked to the Gould Street building to create their own masterpieces with the blocks. Beyond the fun that comes with the toys, the club also hopes to promote socialization and creative thinking among its participants, according to coordinator Chrystine Gaffney.
After seeing similar programs at nearby schools and at an Earth Day Fair in Roseland, Gaffney said she wondered why there weren't any that ran through the summer. With the help of the Essex County 4-H youth-development division, the Verona resident decided to bring the initiative to the community.
"I wanted to have it every week because it's a premade party every Wednesday, which is like the slowest day," Gaffney said.
Every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. through August, youth members ages 3 to 12 will meet at the church with different themes and challenges.
After the first experience with Legos in the inaugural meeting, Gaffney sat in a circle with the children and asked what creations they would like to make in the future. Going forward, the coordinator said she plans to take the ideas and use them as part of a special lottery to determine which one will be selected for each meeting, such as creating a Lego city or large towers.
Another activity will include children taking a cup to scoop out some Legos at random, and then creating whatever they can with the pieces they grabbed, Gaffney said.
Rob Lyons brought two of his children to the club's first meeting. He thought they liked it.
"It's a fun adventure and they enjoyed themselves," Lyons said. "Legos are amazing things; they teach [kids] to build things and think creatively, and the socialization is valuable as well. It's a nice little outing."
Gaffney joined forces with Marissa Blodnik, who runs the Essex 4-H division, to lead the proceedings. On top of the building of Legos, Blodnik said having children speak publicly can help them going forward.
None of it could be possible without the people like Gaffney who help out though, Blodnik added.
"It's about being consistent so the parents feel it's quality programs and the kids are happy," she said. "Finding a good volunteer, it's invaluable."
Ryan Gray, 7, did not want to leave and wanted to bring his project home with him, his mother Lisa Gray said.
Gray said it was great for her two kids to meet some new friends, and that there were more people than she expected.