The Children's Aid Blog

Join Us for Miracle on Madison This Sunday

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Thanksgiving has come and gone and that can only mean one thing: it is time to get those holiday shopping lists ready. Shop at over 80 participating stores on Sunday, December 5th as part of the Miracle on Madison Avenue, and your holiday gifts will go even further– 20% of the cost of your purchases will be donated to The Children’s Aid Society to support health services for children.

Shopping at New York City’s best stores isn’t the only thing Miracle on Madison Avenue has to offer. There will be free giveaways courtesy of Lindt Chocolate and Orbit Gum and complimentary pedicab sleighs to whisk shoppers between 57th and 86th Streets.

You can purchase unique holiday cards designed by kids and also enjoy the sights and sounds of live musical performances at the Miracle Bandstand at 64th Street. Please see the schedule of performances below.

1 p.m. – The Pipes of Christmas, presented by the Clan Currie Society

1:30 p.m. –The Labor of Love Ensemble

2 p.m. – Moey’s Music Party

3 p.m. – COBU, Inc.

So join us for Miracle on Madison Avenue, Sunday, December 5th from 12-5 PM and shop to help New York City children!

A Knicks Thanksgiving at Children’s Aid!

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Youth at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center enjoyed an event on Monday, November 22nd in celebration of Thanksgiving. Together with The Hain-Celestial Group, Inc., a leading natural and organic products company and the Garden of Dreams Foundation, New York Knickerbocker forward Wilson Chandler handed out organic turkeys and fresh vegetables to the center’s needy families.

Before families filed in to receive their all-natural Plainville Farms® turkey with the ready-to make trimmings, the youngsters enjoyed a special performance by the Knicks City Dancers. The center’s children also presented a special poster sized thank you card and plaque to Mr. Chandler. Irwin D. Simon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hain-Celestial was also honored with a plaque for his generosity. "Giving thanks for all that we have, it's a honor to be able to partner with the Garden of Dreams in providing healthy holiday meals through the Children's Aid Society at the Dunlevy Milbank Center once again," said Irwin Simon.  

The special holiday event also included dance music from a special guest DJ, pizza party and a game of hoops on the Knicks Groove Truck.

Students Train to Be Leaders on Vacation Day

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On November 11th, Veterans Day, approximately eighty middle school students dedicated their day off from school to a leadership training workshop to become Certified Youth Advocates in either Healthy Food, School-Based Health Care, Anti-Bullying, or Healthy Streets and Active Transportation.

Members of The Children’s Aid Society Youth Council and Cooking and Environmental Clubs attended the training at I.S. 166 Roberto Clemente School, Children’s Aid Society Community School in the Bronx. The workshop was presented by Children’s Aid, Transportation Alternatives and the New York State Coalition for School-Based Health Centers, The newly certified youth advocates will be able to use the certification to participate in advocacy days in Albany, public hearings, official meetings and other advocacy efforts in New York City and State. These passionate, articulate youth are determined to make their voices heard.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

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Every year, approximately 13,000 children are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and nearly 24 million Americans live with this disease. Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose, the main type of sugar in the blood. Glucose comes from the foods we eat and is the major source of energy needed to fuel the body's functions. Children who have been diagnosed must learn to administer insulin, test blood glucose levels, identify hypoglycemic reactions and follow a strict nutritional and exercise regimen. Needless to say, they have to do a lot of growing up really fast. One out of every three children will have to face the same fate if the current trends continue.

During National Diabetes Awareness Month become involved by informing others of the importance of prevention by living a healthy lifestyle.  For more information on how to become a Diabetes Advocate, please visit stopdiabetes.com.

Help Children’s Aid Get Ingrained

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The Children’s Aid Society’s Go!Healthy initiative educates disadvantaged children from birth through adolescence and their families about the joys of healthful cooking and eating. One of the favorites among Children’s Aid youth is Go!Chefs, a 12-week after-school cooking and nutrition program. Its popularity is catching on; this year the Go! Healthy program is one of five finalists in the running to receive a $15,000 grant from the Get Ingrained program.

With the help of this Get Ingrained Grant, we hope to double the reach of our Go!Chefs program by launching a Culinary Race Around the World. Every day, across The Children’s Aid Society community centers and schools in Harlem, Washington Heights and the Bronx, children in Go!Chefs are learning that whole and plant-based foods are a cause for celebration…and now, healthy competition! In Race Around the World, young chefs will cook their way through Senegal and China, France and the American South, learning how world cuisines use whole foods to create vibrant and healthy meals. They will also learn how to be “conscious consumers” by measuring the sugar in popular foods, reading food labels, and exploring whole grains (including grinding whole wheat flour and baking bread!).

The Race will culminate in an Iron Go!Chefs competition where young chefs will design their own delicious meals based on one non-meat protein, two vegetables, and a whole grain, and prepare it live for a panel of peer, parent and professional Chef judges. Our young chefs will also compete in a Nutrition Bee to demonstrate their new knowledge of healthy eating. Funds from the grant would enable us to enroll over 1,000 children across 15 sites in this exciting program that celebrates healthy eating!

This online competition is through November 29th.  You can help us win this grant by voting for Go!Chefs once each day at http://www.getingrained.com/ListOfFinalists.aspx.  Thank you for your support!

Celebrate National Philanthropy Day

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National Philanthropy Day was celebrated on November 15th, but that doesn’t mean it is too late to give back. This special day is celebrated in honor of those organizations that cater to the needy and also to recognize the people active in the philanthropic community. In the United States alone, there are more than 1 million charitable organizations, and donations to charitable causes exceeded $300 Million in 2009.

Throughout New York City, children may have already started their own charity work and may not even realize it or have given it too much thought. They may be selling chocolate bars or Christmas wrapping paper as fundraising for their school or club. This is a great way to start teaching children about charity and what it really means to give back to their community. Other ways to help children get motivated about giving is to:

  1. Teach them about charities/non-profit organizations and the work they do to help people who are less fortunate. There are helpful websites that can assist with this like CharityNavigator.org.
  2. Encourage them to discover a cause that is important to them, such as animal shelters or the homeless.
  3. Read the newspaper together, looking for stories on local organizations that administer services for the needy. One good example is the Neediest Cases campaign in the New York Times.
  4. Giving is not only about money! Encourage them to give of their time by volunteering at a senior center or by donating items to shelters like canned foods or old clothing.

Teaching children about how charitable giving has an impact in their community is important in cultivating tomorrow’s philanthropic society. Youth should learn that they have the power to influence their generation to make every community better.

Making Communities Healthier

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The word is spreading about Children’s Aid Society’s healthier recipes. United Neighborhood Houses, a membership organization that provides its members with policy development and advocacy support, has partnered with Children’s Aid to bring healthier cooking into shelters, day care centers and senior centers.

The program called Cooking for Healthy Communities has begun training dozens of cooks. “These guys know how to cook,” said Stefania Patinella, Director of Foods and Nutrition at Children’s Aid but adds that the training will enhance knife skills and teach them to use fresh vegetables instead of canned. Stefania developed the new recipes for the program following state serving guidelines and budget restrictions.

The goal of this program is to bring healthier foods to those who depend on such organizations regularly for meals. Jacqueline Martinez, Senior Program Director at New York State Health Foundation which helped fund the healthy cooking program understands the importance of providing healthy meals to low-income neighborhoods where the rates of obesity and diabetes are higher. “The reality is, people just don’t have access to healthy foods in certain neighborhoods,” said Ms. Martinez. Others want to focus on the younger generation of consumers. John Graves cooks for children at the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center. He believes that if healthy vegetables should be introduced to children early on “and by the time they’re five, they’re not afraid of broccoli.”

President and CEO Rich Buery discusses how public education is failing black students

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It is an incontrovertible truth: public education in America is failing black students.  This summer's report from the Schott Foundation demonstrated how badly; in New York City, only 28% of New York City’s black males graduated on time in 2007-08, while 50% of whites did.[1] The Council of the Great City Schools more recent report ‘A Call for Change’ indicates that less than one in every eight black boys is proficient in reading and math by the fourth grade.  White boys were 3-4 times more successful than their black peers on national assessment exams.  Most distressing was the news that white boys who live in poverty performed just as well on the exams as black boys who do not live in poverty.

America is built on a basic idea: that all children have an equal opportunity to live their dreams.  These reports make painfully clear that the real achievement gap is the one between our idea of America and our reality -- at least as it exists for black boys.  And these racial disparities are not limited to education; they exist in all of the systems we have developed to support children in need.  For example, racial disparities in the child welfare system are well documented.  A recent National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (2010) found that black parents are more likely to be reported for child neglect, even though black parents are less likely to abuse and neglect their children than white parents.  This was true even when controlling for poverty.  Investigation rates of black parents are also higher than that of white parents, and blacks are less likely to receive preventive services and more likely to lose their children to foster care.  The Department of Health and Human Services reports that, once abuse and neglect was affirmed, black children were thirty-six percent more likely than whites to be placed in foster care.

In New York City, police officers engage in a stop-and-frisk policy which affects blacks at a much higher rate than whites.  According to a Columbia University report, blacks were nine times more likely to be stopped by the police than whites between 2004 and 2009.  However, these stops were no more likely to yield the arrest of a black individual than a white one.[2] Policies like stop-and-frisk that push the limits of the law contribute to the disproportionate involvement of black youth in the justice system.  The US Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded that the chance of a black male born in 2001 of going to jail is 32% while white males have a 6% chance.

This is an economic and a political crisis.  Economically, we simply cannot afford the lost human potential represented by generations of black boys denied the opportunity to live to their truest potential.  In a global economy rife with competition, we need all hands on deck.  More importantly, how can we as a nation continue to thrive when, over 55 years after Brown v Board of Education, there is such an obvious disconnect between America's constitutional values and our educational practice?  Income inequality is at an its highest level since the census bureau began tracking household income in 1967, and  intergenerational mobility in the US is lower than nearly all Western nations.  Our nation is becoming more fractured.  This cannot continue.

Sadly, as much as we know about the types of interventions that are required to prevent tragic outcomes, we largely ignore them.  From their earliest years, black children need mentors, effective schools, health care and family support to succeed.  They need a commitment that those institutions that were conceived to build them up will stop tearing them down.

Richard R. Buery, Jr.
President and CEO
The Children's Aid Society

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

Influenza Season: Get Your Little Ones Vaccinated

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It’s that time of year again. The runny noses, coughing and aches can make a child’s day-to-day activities near impossible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that all children 6 months to 19 years old receive the seasonal flu vaccine. CDC experts have updated the vaccine for the 2010-2011 flu season (because flu viruses change every year, the vaccine is updated annually). So even if you or your children got a flu vaccine last year, you both still need to get a flu vaccine this season to be protected.

This vaccine protects against three different flu viruses that they believe will cause the most illnesses. For those children under the age of 5, as well as those with long-term health conditions like diabetes and asthma, it is especially important to be vaccinated because they are at a greater risk of complications due to the flu. It is also important for the following groups of people to get vaccinated in order to protect them from the flu:

  • Those who come in close contact with children younger than 5 years old (people who live with them)
  • Out-of-home caregivers (nannies, daycare providers, etc.) of children younger than 5 years old
  • People who live with or have other close contact with a child or children of any age with a chronic health problem (asthma, diabetes, etc.)
  • All health care workers

Children should begin to receive the vaccination as soon as it becomes available. Though the first cases of the flu begin as early as October, the flu season can carry into December, January and later into the winter. 

For information, visit "www.cdc.gov/flu"

Photo via http://www.nbpeds.com/flu

Children’s Aid Brings CSI to East Harlem

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The National Award Winning Children’s Aid Society East Harlem Center Keystone Club is already working on establishing their career paths. Following their interest in shows like CSI: Miami, Law & Order and Dexter, the youth worked on a project that brought the world of Crime Scene Investigation to the East Harlem Center. The project is also a requirement for the club to maintain their Gold Status membership.

The Keystone members, along with their mentor Midge Caparosa, East Harlem Center’s Arts & Leadership Coordinator, sought out the help of the New York City Medical Examiners and District Attorney’s offices who provided professionals to talk on the subject. The youth worked on a mystery script, which they acted out at a center-wide event hosted by the Keystoners themselves on Wednesday, November 3rd! CSI: East Harlem, the evening’s theme, was filled with chilling accounts of a love triangle gone wrong. On hand to help the audience weave through the crime scene evidence and disturbing testimonies was a panel of professionals that included Missing Persons Detective Roberto Santos, Mystery/Crime Novelist Doug Magee, NYC Medical Examiner Dr. Vincent Tranchida and Assistant District Attorneys Shanda Strain and Jung Park.

Congratulations to the Keystoners for following their dreams!

Photos Courtesy of Midge Caparosa