July 12, 2023 By By Ethan Marshall
The Queensbridge nonprofit Operation Safe Block Inc. held its annual “The World is Yours” trip to Universal Studious for approximately 50 local Queens kids between the ages of 7 and 14 last weekend. The trip was made possible thanks in large part to the organization’s sponsors, including legendary rapper and Queensbridge native Nas.
Operation Safe Block Inc. aims to keep kids out of trouble by providing them with a safe space and positive environment where they can play, hang out and socialize with each other. In addition to taking local kids on various trips, the organization also holds events like basketball tournaments.
“Through education, experience, getting involved in things and volunteering for stuff, it will open a lot of doors for [these kids],” Operation Safe Block Inc. President Carl Alston said. “Once they see and experience things, it gives them a better opportunity to do other things other than sit around and do something that is not helpful to their life. I’m super grateful to Nas for funding this program and I’m even more grateful that the parents trust me with their children. That’s an honor.”
This marked Operation Safe Block’s tenth annual trip. Other past trips that Nas has funded for them include hiking and camping trips. They’ve also gone to the Jersey Shore and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., in the past. According to Alston, this trip marked the first time that many of the kids had ever even been in an airplane.
There were approximately 15 chaperones who accompanied the kids on this trip. They included parents, as well as volunteers for Operation Safe Block. According to Alston, some of these volunteers used to take part in the annual trips themselves when they were younger. They have since returned to give back after receiving an education.
“They want to carry the torch and serve the community,” Alston said. “This makes the community itself a better place.”
Alston emphasized the importance the organization being able to keep these kids away from weapons. He also discussed the importance of providing them with teachable moments, helping them to improve their manners and problem-solving skills by making adjustments.
There were a couple instances where Alston and the chaperones had to make adjustments throughout the trip. The group initially planned to go to Disney World, but opted for Universal because the former was too crowded. Additionally, after spending several hours at the airport waiting on the status for their flight back to New York on July 9, it ended up getting cancelled and the group were given rooms at a Hilton Inn nearby before flying back the following day. Alston said the kids were very well-behaved at the airport as they waited.
“In life, things don’t always go according to plan,” Alston said. “Sometimes you have to make adjustments. And sometimes you have to go to Plan B or even Plan C. But you have to work through it so that when things don’t go your way, you can always make rational decisions. You have to be patient and try to think your way through it.”
The whole experience proved to be very enjoyable for the kids as well as the chaperones. As they returned home from the trip, the kids showed their gratitude toward Alston and the other chaperones, with many giving him hugs.
In addition to expressing his thanks to Nas for making this trip possible for them, Alston also showed gratitude towards Brooklyn Council Member Darlene Mealy, who went out of her way to ensure a bus was waiting to pick everyone up from the airport and take them home on July 10.
Alston said plans are already being made for the organization’s future trips. Later in the summer, Operation Safe Block intends to take the kids on tours of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country. During the winter break, Operation Safe Block will be taking the kids upstate to go skiing. This will mark their second such trip.