The Children's Aid Blog

Report on Childhood Obesity – Planning for a Healthier Tomorrow

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mapChildhood obesity is a serious health condition affecting over one-third of American children, from state to state.  A recent national report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2009,” released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), issued a list of health reform recommendations to combat obesity. It emphasizes the importance of preventative medical care, such as nutrition counseling and screening for obesity-related illnesses like Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. The Report also recommends increasing the number of programs available in communities and schools that make nutritional food readily available and affordable to children and their families.

According to the RWJF Report, the fight against child obesity cannot make a  nationwide impact without a concerted, national strategy implemented at the federal, state and municipal levels in collaboration with businesses, schools, and communities.

In another report, School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children,” the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that standards be set by the USDA for nutritious menu planning in schools, where fruit, vegetable and grains would pre-dominate, and sodium and saturated fats would be significantly reduced. The following quote is from Stefania Patinella, Director of Nutrition, The Children’s Aid Society:

The Children’s Aid Society applauds RWJF and the IOM for bringing attention to arguably the most urgent health issue facing our nation’s children. In 2003, Children’s Aid launched the Go!Healthy initiative to educate children and families about wellness and the joys of healthful cooking and eating.  Go Healthy includes: Go! Kids, a toddler food and fitness program; Go! Chefs, a hands-on cooking and nutrition education program for children and families; and Healthy Meals, our foodservice program that feeds approximately 1,500 children each day in the early childhood, after-school and teen programs. The Children’s Aid Healthy Meals program adheres to and exceeds the IMO recommendations. Children’s meals are made entirely from scratch from original recipes that are based on whole and fresh foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Healthy Meals constitutes a profound change to the heat-and-serve model of foodservice, and to implement it successfully we developed a Cook’s Training program to educate cooks in healthful food preparation and basic nutrition. The program has made a profound impact across our community centers—not only in increasing the nutrients and taste of foods we serve, but in broadening the palates and eating behaviors of children, teachers and parents. As districts around the country turn their attention to better school food, Children’s Aid is leading the equally important effort to provide better food in early childhood programs (where children consume up to 80% of their daily calories) and after-school programs.

Teamwork: The Children’s Aid Society and The Boys and Girls Clubs of America

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flag footballIt takes a huge commitment of resources and teamwork to serve the needs of underprivileged Youths of New York City. We have seen on this blog how The Children’s Aid Society collaborates with hundreds of partners and thousands of volunteers to provide help in the daily lives of under-privileged children. Among these partners is the venerable Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In fact, Children’s Aid is a founding member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).

The BGCA, like Children’s Aid, is dedicated to serving the needs of kids every day - encouraging young people to complete their homework, play sports, enter an art competition or eat a healthier snack. The BGCA serves boys and girls in thousands of  locations, many in partnership with Children’s Aid.

martial arts In fact, virtually every Children’s Aid Community after-school program site, operating under Children’s Aid community schools and centers, functions as a Boys & Girls Club. These programs serve children in Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx.

Other examples of this historic partnership: Children’s Aid and the BGCA of New York engaged in partnership with Morgan Stanley to provide 83,500 meals and 66,000 snacks to children just last summer. And, along with our after-school programs, weekend and holiday programs also are offered at our community centers and schools, using BGCA curricula.

We can all be partners of The Children’s Aid Society - your donation, no matter how big or small, multiplied by others' commitment, can make a difference in a child's life that will last for a lifetime! To learn more, visit us here.

Business of Giving: Follow IBM’s Lead

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As the economy slowly resuscitates, companies might use a slow rebound as an excuse to ignore their social responsibilities. But I ask you to take a lesson from IBM, and not, as the company says, “retreat into our shells,” but rather, “go on the offense.”

“Although some companies are reacting to the present crisis by hunkering down and hoping to ride out the storm, from both a business and a societal standpoint, we are taking a different approach,” writes IBM Chairman and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano in the company’s 2008 Corporate Social Responsibility Report. “We believe that the issues facing the world are too critical and far too urgent -- and the opportunities to make meaningful progress on them too immediate -- not to act now.” |

For this reason IBM pledged itself to:

  • Aiding victims of natural disasters with its “disaster relief in a box” Web-based management system.
  • Addressing food shortages by helping compute genetic data that can be used to generate stronger strains of rice.
  • Using technology to improve educational opportunities for 700 schools in 22 countries.

To read the full article, link here

C. Warren Moses, Former CEO

Jane Fonda Supports Dr. Carrera’s Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program!

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Jane Fonda speaking to the attendees

Jane Fonda, who has been a strong supporter of Dr. Michael Carrera’s Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, and Dr. Carrera himself, spoke eloquently and passionately about teen pregnancy prevention at the celebration of the program’s 25 year anniversary.

Jane’s commitment to working on teen pregnancy issues began at a maternity ward of a local hospital, where she met a 14-year-old girl who was in labor with her second child. Jane said:

“She fixed me with her eyes daring me to be judgmental and I prayed that my eyes reflected some kind of love back to her… I realized that there was nothing I could do for her unless I could somehow offer her a life… I wanted to put my arms around her and hold her; I figured nobody ever had, except for sex.

Within weeks of that experience I meet Dr. Michael Carrera at a conference and I heard him speak. He had the words to conceptualize everything we needed if we were to stop young teens from having babies.


Event attendee and speaker, Jane Fonda with Dr. Michael Carrera

Michael said, ‘the principal lever in our work is caring – it’s more important to be kind than right,’ and then he said it’s not what you do that matters…’what they will never forget is how you made them feel,’ and that entered my DNA!

I have never in my life met a man as strategic, as purposeful, as single minded and as full of heart, he taught me that at the foundation of this work it’s about love… and that changed my life and I will be forever grateful.”

Thanks Jane – we are forever grateful to you for your support.

Read more on Jane Fonda’s blog.

Kathy de Meij, Associate Director of Development, Director of Marketing & Special Events

Photos Courtesy of Lily Kesselman

Business of Giving: Socialism in America is Impossible

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There has been a lot of debate lately as to whether proposals such as health-care reform will turn America into a socialist state.

Considering what I’ve learned in 35 years working for nonprofits, I confidently say that this can never be the case.

America will never become socialist because our advancement as a nation depends too greatly on the work of private donors (including individuals, corporations, and corporate foundations) in partnership with nonprofit organizations and the government to work together to find solutions to society’s most complex problems.

This uniquely American “social trinity” ensures that responsibility for public welfare can’t rest solely on the shoulders of the state. It hasn’t happened, isn’t happening, and won’t happen because the system we’ve developed is too effective to be tossed into the recycling bin in favor of government agencies created to do the job nonprofits do so well.

To read the full article, link here

C. Warren Moses, Former CEO

Children’s Aid Supports Juvenile Justice Programs

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From the New York Times to Georgetown University, voices in the policy arena call for new ideas to improve the juvenile justice system. The Children’s Aid Society has been a leader in operating its juvenile justice programs, and is helping build a system that supports adolescents’ emotional, educational, and physical well-being, with rehabilitation and re-entry as hallmarks of success. justice

To help keep children out of the justice system, The Children’s Aid Society provides educational support services for students seeking a general equivalency diploma (GED). The Children’s Aid Society also helps youths train for and obtain employment. Children’s Aid Society, through its Persons in Need of Supervision – Designated Assessment Services program also intervenes directly in the lives of delinquent children, assigning social workers to help families uncover and remedy the causes of behavioral problems.

Even when prevention falls short, the Children’s Aid Society keeps working. Through its Legal Advocacy program, Children’s Aid advocates for children’s interests in court. And once children have exited the system, Children’s Aid Society helps them re-enter their communities, avoid situations that could prompt a return to crime, and adjust back into their family lives.

Through such preventative measures and re-entry services, Children’s Aid is a leader in helping to bring about a juvenile justice system that prevents and remediates the harsh effects of juvenile delinquency.

Beating the Statistics – The Children’s Aid Society Battles Child Obesity

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In New York City, 47% of public elementary school children are overweight, with 27% of them categorized as obese. These are alarming statistics. image023

Child obesity has morphed into a serious crisis, requiring immediate attention on the part of families, schools and local government. The Children’s Aid Society has adopted an aggressive three-pronged approach to battle this problem, centering on the basic concept of sustainable living.

First, children and families must be educated about nutrition. In a recent podcast interview, Stefania Patinella, Manager of The Children’s Aid Society Food and Nutrition Programs, pointed out that, “Food is a very natural thing for kids to get into…they’re always hungry and they love to eat!”  That’s why our Go!Kids works, where kids aged 2-5 can learn about fitness and food, and  through hands-on cooking classes like Go!Chefs, where budding young chefs get to  create culinary feasts.

Secondly, Children’s Aid advocates initiatives such as the Green Cart Bill, helping low-income families gain access to quality, affordable healthy food. Safeguarding the health and wellness of disadvantaged children has been central to our mission for over 150 years, and that includes the availability of healthy and nutritious food. The kids play an important advocacy role as well, learning about gardening by becoming young “farmers,” and running youthmarkets from their schools in neighborhoods like East Harlem and South Bronx.

And finally, it’s about taking responsibility for what we feed our kids. We feed over 1500 children kids a day in our community schools and after-school programs. For some children, this may be their only decent meal of the day, so it’s critical that we provide the most nutritious foods. We’re committed to reducing the percentage of obese and overweight children in our community, and by working at education and advocating for the disadvantaged youth in New York, we’re working at making apples and carrots more enticing than chips and doughnuts!

Climbing to Success, and Helping Others Along

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Patrick Alvarez, left, and Isaias Garcia serving up a turkey dinner last week in Harlem.

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured, by Sam Dolnick, this Children’s Aid story about Patrick Alvarez and Isaias Garcia and how they give back because of the help they have been given. Below is an excerpt from the original article.

Patrick Alvarez made sure the tables of children were eating their turkey while he directed a group of volunteers to the kitchen, nodded thanks to a mentor and shook hands with a well-wisher grateful for the meal.

The blizzard of activity might have overwhelmed most people, but Mr. Alvarez, 19, has spent his life overcoming long odds. He went from living in a homeless shelter with his mother to studying economics at Syracuse University, where he is a sophomore. Along the way, he said, he saw domestic abuse at home, mostly in the Bronx, cold nights on a shelter floor and fierce battles with Brooklyn rats.

But all of that seemed a lifetime ago on Tuesday night at the Frederick Douglass Center on the Upper West Side, as Mr. Alvarez watched some 200 people eat Thanksgiving dinners provided by a nonprofit group that he founded.

Read more…

To learn how you can make a difference for this family and many others, please link over to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund or contact:

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
230 West 41st Street
Suite 1300
New York, NY 10036
(800) 381-0075

Photo courtesy of Michelle V. Agins for The New York Times

East Harlem Children’s Aid Kids Prove Youngsters Don’t Only Think of Themselves!

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image013On Friday, December 4th, hundreds of youngsters took a break from adding to their massive wish lists to make hand-made gifts for their family and friends during the We Care event at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem.

Thanks to We Care, an annual national event organized by Herman Miller, Inc. and joined by over 200 of America’s top architecture and interior design firms such as Environetics, Tobron and Gensler, the center’s gym was transformed into “Santa’s Workshop” for the afternoon. image015

Approximately 465 preschool and early school-aged children from Dunlevy Milbank Center, Drew Hamilton Center, Frederick Douglass Center, East Harlem Center and Taft Day Care in Harlem and East Harlem, tackled the individual craft stations to make candles, photo cubes, hats, coffee mugs and bedazzled gloves. What to get that difficult older brother? Grandma’s the picky type? We Care and Children’s Aid staff were on hand to help with the tough choices and even helped wrap the gifts so that they would be ready for the holidays. Picking the right gift for that special someone is never an easy task so music, face painting and gingerbread cookies helped ease the gift making stress. And just in case the postal service to the North Pole is not as reliable this year, Santa was on the premises to confirm any last minute requests! Photos Courtesy of Lily Kesselman

Children’s Aid East Harlem New York Kids Get a Lesson in Popular Toys from Different Decades

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image002Since 2004, the Children's Aid Society has received the extraordinary support from the Simons and Magerman families to fund MASPAS (Magerman and Simons Program for Academic Success) - an intensive academic program at our three Harlem community Centers.

MASPAS works with 5th through 8th graders, promoting their academic success and getting them on a strong high school track.  MASPAS provides what many of our children desperately need:  academic enrichment during the after-school hours.  Over the last few years, the program has focused on project-based learning where the students steer the curriculum to large-scale projects that interest them. image004

The 5th Grade MASPAS group at the East Harlem Center has obviously been thinking a lot about toys this holiday season - however, not in the usual way.  This particular group of young people has been researching the most popular toys from different decades. 

Did you know that the first Mr. Potato Head cost only 98 cents?  Or that Silly Putty is actually used in space by astronauts because it's so flexible?  image006As part of the Center's holiday show, the MASPAS students have been putting together a skit to share all the fun facts they've learned about their toys.

To make the project even more engaging - the 5th graders decided to take a recent trip to Toys R Us in Times Square to see how much these timeless toys cost today.  Each child had to inquire with store personnel as to where their specific toy was located, and then they needed to use one of the store's price scanners to check the toy's cost.  image008 The students were surprised to see how the prices and packaging of today compared to the originals.

Everyone had a lot of fun learning more about these popular toys and being a part of the city's holiday atmosphere.