At times, it seems as if Marin Boulevard and Washington Street – the streets near the Newport Mall – border a gulf downtown, with Jersey City’s historic districts on one side of the divide, and Newport waterfront condo dwellers on the other. But now the group JC Families is using the common bond of kids to bridge this gap.
The activity-based Newport group started three years ago to give new mothers and moms with young children opportunities to meet up for play dates without having to leave Jersey City. Since then, JC Families has grown to include a membership of about 400 parents and children who regularly attend the group’s events in Hamilton Park, Newport Beach, Newport Green Park, and Elephant Park. (Elephant Park is the site where the iron elephant statues are displayed during the summer months. The site is the location of Newport Skates in the winter.)
Total JC Families membership is about 1,000 families, according to founder Mamta Singh.
“We started in 2010 because there really weren’t any activities in Jersey City for moms with young children,” said Singh. “If you wanted to find activities for your children, you either had to go into New York or Hoboken. So, we wanted to create something here in our own neighborhood.”
Like other new mom-centered groups, most events sponsored by JC Families are designed to give young children an activity-based outlet to channel their energy – like arts and crafts, bubble blowing, and soccer workshops – while also giving parents an opportunity to socialize with their own peers.
‘We started in 2010 because there really weren’t any activities in Jersey City for moms with young children.’ – Mamta Singh
Festival of Children, s’mores
Despite the group’s immediate success in the Newport community, Singh admits that few moms from other local neighborhoods attended the group play dates in the group’s early days. Gradually, that is beginning to change, she said.
“We are now having more events in Hamilton Park and Van Vorst Park, and so we now see parents coming from those areas,” said Singh. “For example, in June, we will have our Festival of Children in Van Vorst Park and we’ll be making s’mores with the Girl Scouts later on in Hamilton Park during the farmers market that takes place there. So these are the kind of events that give us more exposure to other moms outside of Newport, so we can continue to expand our membership.”
At press time, dates had not been solidified for the Festival of Children and the s’more-making fun, since JC Families was waiting to see what the weather will be like in early June. (The group’s hope is to have the Festival of Children take place on Father’s Day to mirror a similar event the group recently hosted on Mother’s Day.)
Speaking of fathers, while JC Families includes membership of women with children, Singh insists that dads are welcome at all events, too.
“By all means we are open to dads coming to our events with their children. We have many dads who participate in our events with their wives and children,” said Singh.
Families for the rest?
At present, Singh admits the emphasis of JC families is families with young children, a focus that some residents find disappointing.
“Yes, we do have single people in the community who have asked us, ‘Why don’t you have anything for us?’ You know, they see us outside in the summer doing all the activities for the kids and they want something similar for adults. And you know, maybe one day we will,” Singh laughed. “But for now, we are really just focused on families.”
Hmmm. JC Future Families, anyone?
To connect with JC Families and see a full listing of upcoming events, visit their website at www.jcfamilies.com.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.