The Children's Aid Blog

Knicks Superstar Amar’e Stoudemire Spends the Day at Children’s Aid!

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The kids were all smiles and screams as Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks handed out school supplies at The Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Centers in Harlem.

On the afternoon of September 13th, Amar’e spent the earlier part of the day visiting the Frederick Douglass Center before boarding a school bus heading to Dunlevy Milbank. There, students, ages 8-14, gathered in the center’s gym where he personally handed them a back-pack PACKED with school supplies courtesy of the Garden of Dreams and WB Mason. On hand to hype up the crowd was MSG Network’s Gus Johnson and the Knicks City Dancers.

Stoudemire was not the only one handing out gifts! Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, and Casper Lassiter, Director of the Dunlevy Milbank Center, presented Amar’e with his very own Milbank Flyers T-shirt. The center’s boys’ basketball team placed fourth in a national competition this summer. 

Before handing out the bags of school supplies, the newest Knicks’ superstar addressed the crowded gym, where he reminded everyone that education is the key to future success.

Domestic Violence – Part 3: The Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

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While every relationship is different, survivors of domestic violence have identified common characteristics and behaviors of abusive partners.  Knowing the warning signs can help you to avoid abusive relationships or identify abuse and get help for yourself or a friend/family member sooner. If you recognize any of the warning signs below, consider calling the Family Wellness Program or one of the hotlines listed at the bottom of this page.

1. Extreme jealousy – when one partner wants to know who the other is with and what they are doing at all times, is extremely possessive, accuses them of cheating with no reason. 

2. Isolation – when one partner wants the other all to him/her self, tries to cut them off from friends, family, and activities – might even insist they quit their job or school.

3.  Controlling behavior – when one partner tries to control the other by telling them what to do, how to dress, who to hang out with – or manipulates them into doing what they want.

4.  Fast-moving relationship – when a partner who comes on very strong, is an extreme “smooth talker” and wants make major commitments very early in the relationship.

5.  Blaming – when one partner always seems to blame the other for his/her own behavior – “You made me do this.”

6.  History of abusive behavior – if someone has ever been abusive to a current or ex partner, a child or an animal; it is unlikely they will change without help.

7. Moodiness – someone with a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality.

8. Put-downs – when one partner is constantly criticizing the other, putting them down and making them feel badly about themselves.

9. Entitlement – when someone believes they are entitled to be in charge or be catered to, whether because of gender or other reasons.

10. Intimidation and threats - when one partner uses threats or intimidating body language, punches walls or breaks things to intimidate the other.

How to get help:

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)

 

Presidential Proclamation: National School Lunch Week

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“No child should have to learn on an empty stomach,” is the opening line of the Presidential Proclamation in which President Obama declared the week of October 10 through 16, 2010, as National School Lunch Week. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a federally assisted meal program that operates in schools and child care institutions, is the largest of the Child Nutrition Programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. Each year, to raise awareness of the importance of the National School Lunch Program, the School Nutrition Association (SNA) helps schools celebrate with an official theme that changes every year. This year’s theme is “School Lunch – What’s on Your Tray?” By visiting www.WhatsOnYourTray.org students can take a personality quiz to reveal which of the site’s cool cartoon characters fit their personality and what healthy foods are best to keep them energized throughout the school day. This interactive campaign aims to inspire students to get excited about healthy school lunch choices.

The National School Lunch Program prevents hunger for 31 million students daily and promotes education by enabling children to have access to nutritiously balanced and affordable meals at school. The Congress, by joint resolution of October 9, 1962 (Public Law 87-780), as amended, has designated the week beginning on the second Sunday in October each year as "National School Lunch Week," and has requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week.

The Children's Aid Society of New York introduced many progressive programs in its sites that today are commonplace. In 1853, Children’s Aid started its free school lunch program for destitute children, the only one of its kind in the United States at that time.

Fed Ex Volunteers Brighten Up Children’s Aid

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Thousands of FedEx team members from more than 30 cities across the United States and over 40 countries around the world volunteered in local community service projects as part of the 6th Annual FedEx Cares Week. FedEx employees were provided with volunteer opportunities at local organizations that are dedicated to improving the communities for which they serve.

New York City FedEx volunteers, along with United Way, assisted in painting and organizing at the Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Boys & Girls Club. The generous volunteers updated the paint of the playground mural and gym walls, as well as organize the gym’s storage unit. Among other projects at the center, the Fed Ex team members sorted clothing donations and organized the library books. 

“FedEx Cares Week empowers FedEx team members around the world to serve together and make a difference in their own backyards,” said Stephanie Butler, manager of Global Citizenship at FedEx.

Photo Courtesy of Tabatha Stephens, FedEx.

Domestic Violence – Part 2: The Effect of Domestic Violence on Children

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This is the second in a series of blogs on domestic violence and healthy relationships which we originally 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 Why People Abuse and Why Victims Stay.

It is estimated that at least 10 – 20% of American children are exposed to domestic violence in their homes. The effects on children vary widely. Some children are very resilient and continue to function in relatively healthy ways. But many children suffer from long-term effects.

Children who see, hear or are aware of violence at home are much more likely to get hurt themselves – either by getting hit directly or being ‘caught in the crossfire’ and hurt accidentally. Even when they are not hurt physically, they are usually hurt emotionally. They are much more likely to get in trouble for fighting with peers, do poorly in school, be diagnosed with learning disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or other mental health problems like depression or anxiety. As adolescents, they are at greater risk of substance abuse, dating violence, suicide, and a whole host of other social and emotional problems.

The cycle of violence in a family all too often repeats itself from generation to generation. And it impacts not only the family, but all of society, not only because of the cost in the health care and criminal justice arenas, but because those same child witnesses are more likely to grow up to commit not only intimate partner abuse, but many other forms of violence in the community. 

If a child you know is being exposed to domestic violence, call one of the numbers below to find out how you can help:

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)

 

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.