The Children's Aid Blog

Chefs Go Back To School Across America

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Everyone is getting behind the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Campaign whose goal is to reduce the childhood obesity from 20% to 5% by 2030.One group of people joining that fight are the Nation’s chefs. Mrs. Obama is calling on all chefs to get involved by adopting a school and helping them teach its students about healthier foods. Chefs already know how to create delicious yet healthy meals! The tough part will be delivering the message to children in such a way that would be appealing to them. 

The “Chefs Move to Schools” program is pioneered by Sam Kass, the Assistant White House Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives. The program, which is run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will assist chefs in partnering with a school in their local communities so that they may work together in facing what some would call their toughest crowd yet, kids. The mission is to create delicious and nutritious meals that meet the schools’ dietary guidelines and to teach the children about making healthier food choices. With more than 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 11 million participating in the National School Breakfast Program, school meals may be the only nutritious option for many children today.

With Go! Healthy directed by The Children’s Aid Society, our fight against childhood obesity more important than ever. The program is aimed at combating obesity in children, teens and adults by teaching them about the joys of fresh, delicious and healthful foods. Go! Healthy is “food education” that makes healthful foods fun and accessible for children and families in New York’s low-income neighborhoods.

Stefania Patinella, Director of Food and Nutrition Programs

“From the beginnings of the Go!Healthy, The Children’s Aid Society recognized the dearth of tested and effective responses to this urgent crisis in child health. We set out to create program models that would not only work within our own Community Schools and Centers, but in low-income communities across the country. Our resulting obesity prevention programs are innovative and effective...Go!Healthy takes a holistic and comprehensive approach to child heath. Our three pronged approach includes education, foodservice and advocacy.”

September is National Yoga Month

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Thinking about starting a healthy lifestyle? Yoga is one way to help balance yourself physically and mentally. September is National Yoga Month and throughout the United States one can find free or discounted Yoga classes, as part of an effort to spread awareness of the benefits of yoga, including improved strength, posture, breathing and flexibility, as well as improving one’s mood and concentration.

The Children’s Aid Society knows the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and being a positive role model to children. Yoga is a fun way for children to practice being fit. At Children’s Aid, Yoga is offered to participants at Community Schools P.S. 5 and P.S. 8 in Washington Heights, the Bronx Family Center and the Philip Coltoff Center at Greenwich Village. At The Children’s Aid Society’s East Harlem Center, mothers and their little ones practice Yoga together as part of the Head Start Program.

Moria Cappio, Head Start Education Director at the East Harlem Center:

"Through our partnership with University Settlement and the Butterflies Program, our Head Start children and families are able to not only strengthen their bodies, minds and spirits, but also their relationships with one another. The teachers and parents always comment on how the children learn to use the breathing techniques outside of yoga - in the classroom and in their homes."

Namaste!

What Everyone Should Know About Domestic Violence

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This is the first in a series of blogs on domestic violence and healthy relationships which we posted last year in honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  We are reposting these blogs because the information is still so important. Check back every Monday in October for upcoming blogs on The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children, Why People Abuse and Why Victims Stay.

The Children’s Aid Society recognizes domestic violence, also known as relationship abuse or intimate partner abuse, as one of the most pressing issues facing children, families and communities today.   Most people know someone who has been abused or abusive, even if they are not aware of it.  It can devastate families, lead to lifelong problems for the children who witness it, and contributes to a wide range of violence in the community. That is why CAS is committed to providing both education to prevent abuse and services to help families impacted by it to find safety and heal from its effects.

Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Abuse is defined as a pattern in an intimate relationship in which one partner (spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, dating partner) attempts to gain or maintain power and control over the other.  Abusers may use physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and financial tactics to establish that control. Anyone can be abused – this is an issue that cuts across race, culture, class, religion and sexual orientation, and teens as well as adults experience it.  The most important thing to remember is that NO ONE deserves to be abused. While victims are often convinced that they bring on the abuse themselves, this is never the case – a person who chooses to abuse someone else is always responsible for his or her own actions.

If you or someone you know is being abused or abusive, you should know that help is available. The first step is to call the Children’s Aid Society’s Family Wellness Program or one of the hotline numbers listed below. We will listen without judgment, give you information about your options, and help you figure out the next steps. All of our services are free and confidential.

The Children’s Aid Society – Family Wellness Program   212-503-6842
NYC Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-699-SAFE (TDD 800-787-3224)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 (TTY 866-331-8453)

 

Get Your Teens to Give Back This School Year

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According to an issue brief released in June 2010 by the Corporation for National and Community Service, 63.4 million Americans volunteered to help their communities in 2009, a significant increase from 2008 and making it the largest increase since 2003. Community service is a great way for teenagers to sort out their future college and career goals while giving back to their neighborhood. Studies also show that those who volunteer after-school or on the weekends tend to perform better in school. Volunteering provides many other benefits to teenagers, including improving self-esteem, confidence and acquiring new skills.

Community service is also an important part of scholarship and college applications. This is an area where teens have a lot of control over that will help distinguish them from other applicants. Projects can be self-created such as organizing your own food drive or volunteering to walk dogs for the elderly or disabled. Teens can volunteer in:

  • Homeless Shelters (helping to prepare and serve meals)
  • Food Banks
  • Hospitals (great if considering a medical career)
  • Senior Citizens Centers
  • Animal Shelters
  • Political Campaigns

Researching databases online such as Do Something.org can help teens realize the opportunities that are out there for them.

Additional comments from Vito Interrante, Division Director of City & Country Branches at The Children’s Aid Society:

Community Service can help teens in their social-emotional maturation by offering an avenue of self-expression while developing an area of competency for the betterment of their neighborhood.”

Survey Finds Most Teens Have Had Sex Education

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The National Center for Health Statistics recently released the findings from data collected by the National Survey of Family Growth examining the percentages of male and females ages 15 to 19 who have received sexual education.

The information gathered between 2006 – 2008 came from face-to-face interviews conducted with approximately 2,700 teens, who were asked whether they received any formal instruction on any of four topics of sexual education at their school, church, community center or any other place. The four topics discussed were:

  1. How to say no to sex
  2. Use of birth control
  3. Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  4. How to prevent HIV/AIDS

The survey found that 96% of females and 97% of males received some kind of sexual education before the age of 18. Other key findings listed in this report are:

  • 92% of male and 93% of female teenagers reported being taught about STDs
  • 89% of male and 88% of female teenagers reported receiving instruction on how to prevent HIV/AIDS
  • Teenagers were more likely to receive information on how to say no to sex than learning methods of birth control

NCHS also reports that female teenagers were more likely than the males to have already spoken to their parents on how to say no to sex, methods of birth control and where to obtain it. With 39% of males and 41% of females, both groups had talked to their parents about and how to prevent STDs and HIV/AIDS. For more information, view the complete report here.

September Is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

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“When we work together, we can overcome any obstacle and protect our Nation's most precious resource -- our children,” said President Barack Obama in a September 1st press release detailing his National Proclamation that declared September National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The President has already taken action in the important fight against Childhood Obesity, including a creation of the Task Force on Childhood Obesity that combines resources of the Federal Government to develop interagency solutions, such as an action plan to reduce the childhood obesity rate from 32% to just 5% by 2030.

At Children’s Aid, we are part of the fight against childhood obesity through education classes in cooking and nutrition, urban gardens, Youthmarkets, and advocating for food justice in all communities. Mark Childhood Obesity Awareness Month by visiting your local Greenmarket!

UPS Delivers Safety to The Children’s Aid Society East Harlem Center

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The UPS Foundation has partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) to teach safe driving techniques to teenagers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine teens ages 16 to 19 die every day from injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Also, crash risk is higher during the first year for newly licensed teens.

The Children’s Aid Society East Harlem Center Boys & Girls Club is proud to have been selected to receive a grant this year to implement UPS Road Code, a fun and educational program that brings UPS’s safe-driving expertise to 80 teenagers at the center.  During UPS Road Code, teens will learn about the consequences of hazardous driving, UPS’s safety driving “code” used by all UPS drivers and use an interactive computer-based game to identify road hazards.

The participants will be able to test their driving skills on a simulator provided by UPS. At the end of the final session, students, parents and UPS volunteers participate in a graduation ceremony. Top achievers are recognized with small incentives. Each student receives a certificate indicating their completion of the UPS Road Code course.

Volunteers Spend Time with Foster Care Children

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For many New Yorkers, September 11th is still a day of sadness and fear while others have taken to making it a day full of hope and the opportunity to uplift others. For 18 volunteers of Turner Broadcasting, this year’s anniversary was filled with giggles and cheers of children from The Children’s Aid Society. The participants, about 26 children from the Foster Care program at The Children’s Aid Bronx Family Center, were treated to a day of fun and games at Chelsea Piers. The afternoon was spent playing dodge ball, rock climbing, expanding their skills through a challenging obstacle courses, gymnastics and tug-o-war. The volunteers were very much about the children and making sure all were happy, comfortable and participating. When asked what their favorite part of the day was, it was a general consensus that rock climbing took the cake, even though many admitted to being afraid at first.

“It was the best day ever,” said many of the children of the special day provided to them thanks to the volunteers from Turner Broadcasting.

New York Life Foundation Grants $450,000 to The Children's Aid Society's Next Generation Center

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On July 19th, The New York Life Foundation announced a three-year, $450,000 grant to The Children’s Aid Society to support the Next Generation Center (NGC), which helps at-risk youth and those who have aged out of foster care, which generally ends at the attainment of age 21. NGC focuses on helping these youth gain valuable life skills and diverts them from entanglement with negative institutions. 

“We are pleased to extend our partnership and increase the number of young people who have access to the services they need to help them become independent adults,” said Chris Park, president, New York Life Foundation. “The Next Generation Center provides critical services to youth in foster care who often face the transition into adulthood alone and unsupported.”

“We are delighted that the New York Life Foundation has continued to support the enhancement and expansion of our state-of-the-art facility in the Bronx,” said Richard R. Buery Jr., Children’s Aid President and CEO.“The additional support will provide more youth who are aging out of foster care with the resources and information they need to become responsible, self-sufficient adults in a safe environment. The services and knowledge the youth at The Next Generation Center (NGC) receive are valuable lessons they will retain for the rest of their lives.”

NGC opened in 2006 and with The New York Life Foundation’s initial grant in 2008, it grew from a small two-room storefront to a state-of-the art facility.  NGC’s membership grew from 300 teens in 2007 to more than 1,300 members in 2009.  While this growth is an indicator of the Center’s success in attracting vulnerable youth, it is also a reflection of the shortage of services available to these young people. The latest grant will help NGC continue to offer the support and services these young adults need for three additional years.

Hope Leadership Academy’s 2010 Summer Institute

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Hope Leadership Academy’s 2010 Summer Institute hosted three programs for teens this summer, designed to further the Children’s Aid Society’s mission of providing children with the support and opportunities needed to become happy, healthy and successful adults: Peer Education Training, Financial Literacy, and the Youth Employment Summer (YES) Program.

Peer Education is an intensive training and employment program which helps develop teens’ facilitation skills. The theme this year was Healthy Relationships, and the curriculum included People Empowered to Address Real-Life Situations (PEARLS) and lessons from the Teen Relationships Workbook. In addition to developing their training skills, young people participated in enrichment components and weekly excursions that were designed to enhance their summer. The weekly trips were designed to broaden participants’ perspective on life and help them develop strategies for future success in all endeavors.  From an organic farm in Brooklyn to a fun-filled sports day in Staten Island, the field trips helped the youth explore the five boroughs.

Teens in the Financial Literacy Program gained an understanding of personal finance principles this summer to prepare them to make educated financial decisions during adolescence and throughout adulthood. On a weekly basis, trainers in Financial Literacy traveled to different locations in order to facilitate workshops for Summer Youth Employment Program participants on a variety of topics including budgeting, wants vs. needs, and financing college.

The YES program is a summer program founded by Michael Stern, which places inner-city youth in corporate internships to prepare them to be future business leaders.  Participants were placed in several fields such as retail, law, banking, and technology.  Each Friday, the young people attended an educational component which was a time for all YES participants to meet and discuss any issues that may have occurred at their place of employment during the course of the prior few days.

On August 19, Hope Leadership Academy coordinated a recognition ceremony for all Summer Institute participants The event was designed to give participants an opportunity to celebrate and demonstrate their mastery of peer education topics covered throughout the course of the Summer Institute and to honor the participants of Financial Literacy and the Youth Summer Employment Placement Program for their hard work.

Danny Morris
Director, Hope Leadership Academy