The Children's Aid Blog

Fannie Lou Students Host a Fresh Foods Youth Market

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Children’s Aid community school Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School recently held its back to school night, where students kicked off the new year in good health by organizing their very own “Youth Market.” This market was part of Children’s Aid’s Go!Healthy initiative, and brought fresh, locally grown produce to over 150 members of the school community at affordable prices. Students also held sampling stations of nutritious and tasty dishes for all to try.

The market also provided educational and advocacy components as well. Attendees were offered healthy recipes, information about healthy eating habits and guidelines on the importance of portion control. Displays of soda cans filled with sugar illustrated how much sugar is contained in soft drinks, and reinforced the importance of choosing to consume fewer sweets. The students also gathered signatures for a City Hall petition that asks for all NYC public school student to receive free and nutritious lunches.  

Students raised $100 at the event, all of which will go towards funding the next exciting Youth Market at Fannie Lou.

Back to School: The First Week

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Allow for flexibility in your own schedule. You want to be available for any unexpected trips to your child’s school. Some children need help with this new transition and overcoming the anxiety that they may experience at the start of a new school year.

Wake up early. Set your alarm clocks earlier this week to allow for extra time in the mornings. Your child will need the extra time to get used to a new morning routine.

After school. Review with your child their after school agenda. Make sure your child has a clear understanding of where they should be once school lets out and with whom if you are not able to meet to pick them up. Studies show that between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. is when youth are more likely to commit crime or be the victim of a crime.

Review your child’s backpacks. Review the work your child has already begun to do with enthusiasm and talk about what he/she will be learning this school year. Also, check for informational handouts which will be sent home often in the next couple of weeks.

Get to know other school staff. It is not only your child’s teacher or principal that keeps the school running day-to-day. Find out who are the main office staff, school nurse and mental health professionals. These are your best resources should you encounter any issues during the school year.

Gearing Up for a New School Year

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All public schools begin classes on Monday, September 9, which does not leave much time to establish a routine if you haven’t already done so in your home. The beginning of a new school year can be anxiety-inducing for parents and children alike but with a few tweaks to a child’s daily routine and pre-planning for the year ahead, the first days of school can start off without a hitch. Below are some helpful tips from The Children’s Aid Society to remember and put into practice to ensure you get off on the right foot:

Health check. Be sure your child is in good physical and mental health. Schedule checkups early and possibly before the first day of classes. Having your child’s physical exam before the beginning of school is a good way to ensure there are no health-related surprises during the school year, such as poor eye health or dental concerns.

Mark your calendar. Make a note of important dates, especially back-to-school activities and/or parent engagement events. This is especially important if you have children in more than one school and need to make special arrangements.

Stock up. Most schools provide parents with a list of supplies that are needed for the school year ahead during the first few weeks, but it’s always a good idea to stock up on the basics. If this is not your first “back to school,” you may already know what will be requested. Take advantage of sales and stock up on pencils, crayons, rulers and composition books for elementary-aged children. Parents are also asked to supply tissues, hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes. Some teachers require specific supplies, so save receipts for items that you may need to return later.

School year routine. Before school starts, re-establish your child’s school year bedtime. Its best to start this atleast a week before so that they are not cranky those first days back at school.

Morning activities. Encourage your child to play quiet games or do some light reading in the mornings. This will help your child be better prepared to learn and focus during the school day.

School Visit. If this is a brand new school for your child, take the time to visit the school. Helping your child familiarize him or herself with the school building, classrooms, bathrooms, etc. can help ease anxieties. Call ahead to ensure your child’s teacher will can be available to introduce him or herself to your child. Most teachers are back at school weeks ahead of the start date prepping their classroom and working on lesson plans.

Homework spot. This area can be in the family room or kitchen. Its best to keep younger children close by because they often need encouragement and help. 

Talk it out. Going back to school to a new class and teacher can be pretty stressful for children. Set aside some time to check-in with your child.  If there is anything of particular concern, don't hesitate to call your child’s pediatrician, who can help determine what worries are age-appropriate.

Always be enthusiastic and excited about the first day of school and every school day after that. To parents and children, best of luck and have a happy, healthy school year!

Summer Interns Praise Political Experience

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Dozens of teens gathered at The Children’s Aid Society’s National Center for Community Schools for the 2013 Internship Appreciation Ceremony on Friday, August 9 to celebrate the culmination of a memorable summer work experience. The teens were joined by family, friends and Children’s Aid staff as well as staff from the offices of over a dozen New York City elected officials at which they interned over the summer.

The interns had the unique opportunity to experience a real-life, bustling office of an elected official. These youth not only worked on shredding paper or going on the occasional coffee run; they assisted with special community projects, events and constituent questions. The skills and confidence acquired while working with these important civil servants have prepared the teens that much more for the college experience and the work force.

The appreciation ceremony was an opportunity for the interns to express their gratitude to the staff who have guided them through an unforgettable summer experience. The Children’s Aid Society would like to thank the offices of Assembly Member Gabriela Rosa, Assembly Member Herman D. Farrell, Assembly Member Keith Wright, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Council Member Annabel Palma, Council Member Inez Dickens, Council Member Melissa Mark- Viverito, Council Member Robert Jackson, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, NYS Senator Gustavo Rivera, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, State Senator Bill Perkins.

Staten Island Elected Officials Help Beat the "Summer Slide"

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Staten Island politicians came out to The Children’s Aid Society’s Goodhue Center last week to share their love of reading with summer camp youth for its very first ‘Reading Leaders Day’. Councilwoman Debi Rose, Assemblymember Matthew Titone, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano along with representatives from the offices of the Richmond County District Attorney, State Senator Diane J. Savino and the Staten Island Borough President’s office all led readings to groups of very attentive youngsters. Out on the green lawn, the campers were all ears as their “Reading Leader” brought the book to life in his/her own unique and entertaining way.

The Children’s Aid Society is committed to increasing summer learning to counter the effects of the “summer slide.” The National Summer Learning Association reports that “most students lose two months of mathematical skills every summer, and low-income children typically lose another two to three months in reading.” The literacy component of The ]Children’s Aid Society’s summer curriculum addresses the issue of summer learning loss by establishing structured learning time that requires participants to be active readers.

With CME Group Support, Artistic Possibilities Grow in After-School

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In the 2012-2013 school year, after-school arts programming thrived at Children’s Aid community schools P.S. 8, located in Washington Heights, and C.S. 61, located in our South Bronx campus. With the generous support of funders, including the CME Group Community Foundation, more than 430 students participated in engaging arts enrichment activities that provided unique opportunities to express their cultural and community pride, and discover new talents and interests.  

In the out-of-school time hours, students sketched, painted, collaged and created other works of art. Youth also took part in clubs that exposed them to music history, dance and drama. At P.S. 8, second grade students enrolled in Children’s Aid’s popular jewelry-making club created their own unique designs inspired by Indian and African traditions.

Dance was a particularly popular after-school activity last year at P.S. 8 and C.S. 61, with students studying diverse forms of dance and movement that included the merengue, samba, hip-hop, tango and flamenco.

The Children’s Aid Society believes that early and consistent access and exposure to the arts are integral to a child’s positive development. The vital support received each year from generous funders, including the CME Group Community Foundation, makes it possible for Children’s Aid to provide high-quality arts programs to hundreds of children, who would otherwise not have access to these valuable, formative experiences.

Parents Go To Summer Camp Too

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“Tell your kids to let you know when you are being cranky,” advised Myrna Torres, deputy director of the School Age Division for Community Schools to a room full of parents on Tuesday, July 30. The parents, participants in the parent summer camp at Salome Ureña de Henríquez middle schools campus in Washington Heights, were in attendance for their last “Communication 101” workshop with Ms. Torres and to celebrate the culmination of the summer camp. In this last meeting, Ms. Torres shared a few tactics that she uses to not bring outside stress into the home and what her children say to let her know she is not communicating effectively.

The parents were recruited to join their own summer camp while signing up their children for summer activities at the SU Campus. The month-long camp offered workshops on keeping children safe on the Internet, special education services and advocating for your child’s academic needs, and the college application and admissions process, as well as honing their own communication skills. One dad commented that he has found success in sparking conversations with his two daughters with topics that interest them. “A Justin Bieber poster was hanging on their wall so I asked them to tell me about him,” he said. “We spent twenty minutes talking about Justin Bieber and it was great.”

The parents also received training on Aris, a SU Campus Intranet that connects parents and students to their teachers and classwork. On Aris, the parents can communicate with school staff, stay up to date on assignments and view grades. These parents now have more self-confidence and a sharpened skill set to put into use as they gear up for the new school year.



JPMorgan Chase Donates Bikes to Children’s Aid Youth

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Yesterday, JPMorgan Chase hosted a “Build-A-Bike” event to benefit 16 kids from our Dunlevy Milbank Community Center in Central Harlem. The Build-A-Bike took place at JPMorgan Chase’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan, where volunteers competed in teams to assemble 16 brand new bikes valued at $1,600. At first, the volunteers were told that they would just be assembling the bikes on their own, but all 16 children surprised the group by showing up to demonstrate their appreciation, test the bikes out and receive biking instruction from the volunteers before taking the gifts home. The group from JPMorgan was thrilled that they had the opportunity to meet the kids.

Thank you, JPMorgan Chase, for enriching the lives of our youth by enabling them to enjoy bike riding and recreation!   

To view pictures from the evening, please click here.

Time Warner Grant Awarded to I.S. 218

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Time Warner Cable (TWC) recently awarded a $3,500 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Summer Challenge Grant to the summer program at I.S. 218, a Children’s Aid community school. TWC also invited a lucky group of students from the school to a 10-year anniversary celebration at the studios of NY1 Noticias, a subsidiary of TWC and the city’s only local, 24-hour all-news channel in Spanish. Youth had the chance to tour the studio, engage in exciting activities and enjoy treats.

Time Warner generously opened up this grant opportunity to middle schools who presented innovative and ambitious proposals for expanding and strengthening STEM programming for youth. A huge thank-you goes out to Time Warner Cable and NY1 Noticias for supporting quality youth programming and opening their doors to children from our community schools.

Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) is a five-year, $100 million cash and in-kind philanthropic initiative to address America’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which puts our children at risk of not competing successfully in a global economy.

Summer Campers Dream Big with Justice Sotomayor

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Last week, about 50 second and third graders from the Children’s Aid Summer Camp at C. S. 211 shared a day of fun, learning and inspiration with U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Bronx native Sonia Sotomayor.

They were part of the Bronx Children’s Museum’s “Dream Big for our Rivers” Environmental Day at Fordham University, which concluded the museum’s annual Dream Big program. Now in its fourth year, Dream Big is a four- to six-week summer arts enrichment program for elementary-aged children at local schools and community-based organizations.

Teaming up with Justice Sotomayor was guest artist Cáthia, one of the top 16 singers in season four of NBC’s popular music contest, “The Voice.” A talented 19-year-old Bronx native, Cáthia has performed at Carnegie Hall and the famed Apollo Theater. The children went crazy when she sang to them. 

In spite of the sweltering temperature, Judge Sotomayor proved to be not only inspirational but also a very engaging and fun reader, delighting the children with her reading of a “refreshing” book about freshwater trout.

The morning activities and workshops were hands-on and engaging. Kids got to observe and touch different kinds of worms and learned about their role in the cycle of nature. They also heard about the Bronx River’s role in the local ecosystem, and got to paint a colorful mural inspired by the mighty river.

With the help of these special guests, the event was a huge success, helping the program meet its goal to “inspire children to dream big, work hard, follow their passions and become caretakers of their world.”