The Children's Aid Blog

Reader’s Digest Association Brings Holiday Cheer to Children’s Aid

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Forty deserving youngsters from the Early Childhood program at The Children’s Aid Society East Harlem Center celebrated the holiday season together with staff from The Reader’s Digest Association (RDA) on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 at its annual Holiday Helping Hands event. The event was planned and facilitated by RDA employees as part of its nationwide Readers Digest Cares Employee Volunteer program.

Participating employees generously sponsored children between ages three and four and presented each with a wrapped holiday gift at the event. The children enjoyed the celebration with food, crafts and a special visit from Santa.

Children's Aid Top Ten Blog Posts of 2010

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2010 has come and gone, leaving many lasting memories of celebrations, charity and changes. Over the past year this blog has covered a wide range of issues affecting the children and families we serve. It has also highlighted special events, success stories and, most importantly, our programs that do so much for New York City’s neediest children. Let us take a trip down memory lane and re-visit the top 10 blog posts of 2010!

1. Could too much time in front of the screen and junk food lead to bad eating habits?

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

3. 2010 Miracle on Madison Avenue

4. Knicks Player Wilson Chandler brings Thanksgiving to Milbank

5. Know Your Rights - Know Your Precinct

6. New Soccer Field at Dunlevy Milbank

7. The Children’s Aid Society is Looking for Foster Parents

8. Children’s Aid-Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program Recognized in Education Week

9. Have You Heard of The Children’s Aid Society in New York?

10. Report On School Absenteeism: Early Intervention Is Key To Academic Success

Garden of Dreams Adopts Children's Aid Families for the Holidays

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We all know that the holidays are not about giving and receiving. They are about experiencing the true spirit of the season. It is about helping those in need and about imparting the importance of helping people who are less fortunate. One-hundred thirty six Children’s Aid families have much to celebrate this holiday thanks to a partnership with The Garden of Dreams Foundation. Madison Square Garden employees, as well as Knicks and Rangers players and coaches, “adopted” families and were able to fulfill their Christmas “wish lists” with gifts ranging from televisions to winter coats to bicycles. The Garden also hosted the families at a celebration with former Knicks player John Starks, former Ranger Adam Graves and the Rockettes.

The Garden of Dreams Foundation, which was launched by Madison Square Garden President and CEO Hank Ratner, brings together all areas of Madison Square Garden to provide memorable events and experiences to underprivileged children and families. The Foundation has about 350 events throughout the year with appearances by celebrities from both the sports and entertainment realms. The Garden of Dreams Foundation has a long-running partnership with The Children’s Aid Society and provides many wonderful experiences for some of New York’s neediest children throughout the year.

To learn more on this wonderful event, please click here.

New York City Architects and Designers Say “We Care”

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The gym at the The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center was bustling with little Elves taking care of holiday presents on Friday, December 10th at the We Care event. Approximately 350 preschool and early school-aged children from Dunlevy Milbank Day Care, East Harlem Center,  Taft Day Care and Frederick Douglass Center in Harlem, kids who may not otherwise have gifts to give to their families, created handmade crafts, aided by top New York City architects and interior designers. One hundred and ten volunteers transformed the gym at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center into Santa’s workshop with a variety of gift-making stations.

Companies like Nelson and Environetics provided the children with individual “craft stations” at which they could design wooden photo holders, fabric wallets, tote bags and Christmas tree ornaments. As a finishing touch, professionals helped the children wrap the gifts so they are ready to give. Participants were also treated to music, face painting and were able to help their own Christmas wishes with a quick visit with Santa.

Now in its fourteenth year, We Care is organized by prominent office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller Inc. along with some two dozen of America’s leading interior design firms. This event is part of an annual, national program and dozens of Boys & Girls Clubs across the country participated, including The Children’s Aid Society of New York. Design professionals donated their time, expertise and materials, as well as decorations and refreshments, for the event. Sponsors included Certified Moving and Storage, and CORT Furniture.

Children’s Aid Student Speaks Up on Education

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The following post was written by Arleen S., a student at The Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, a Children's Aid Society Community School. Arleen recently participated in the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" Education Symposium. 

On December 9th I went to the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” Education Symposium about drop-out prevention organized by The Children’s Aid Society Youth Council and it made me realize how lucky I am to be in Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics (MCSM), a Children’s Aid Society Community School. The students at MCSM should really appreciate what they have. I have learned that there are many schools, especially in East Harlem, that do not even have a gym or auditorium. The biggest problem with most public schools in Manhattan is that the main building is divided into smaller schools, thus causing a separation between the students. At MCSM, the building is shared with the Isaac Newton Middle School, and for the most part, I don’t see any problems.

One issue that was brought up a lot during the symposium was how students did not have the motivation or support from school staff. In MCSM, I think we have many people we can go to for support and many of our teachers are very approachable. If you know what you want in life and are determined to accomplish that then there should be nothing that will stop you. You will seek out help when you need it and avoid any negative energy around you. Students cannot always blame the school system for their problems. If you really believe in something, then do something about it!

I am a teacher’s assistant in Freshman Seminar at MCSM and I see the lack of concern in the freshman class. They think that just because they have another 3 years ahead of them, they should not worry about anything right now. I was the same way when I was a freshman and I did not have anybody to guide me along the way. I did not have anyone to tell me to keep my grades up because it would affect my GPA senior year, about SAT prep courses or to focus. Now, with the new curriculum that is being taught in the Freshman Seminar, freshmen can learn valuable information that will help them throughout their high school experience, yet it is still hard to get them to care.

Each new generation that comes up seems to care less about their education than the last. An education is the most important thing anybody can own, because it can take you places. All my generation seems to care about is our looks not realizing that it will all fade one day. At the symposium, it was nice to meet other students going through similar problems, talking about it and offering feedback to Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and Assembly Members Marcos Crespo and Vanessa L. Gibson. A lot of them were very passionate about what they were saying, and even though there are kids who don’t care about their education, things could change for the better if adults took the time to hear us out.

By: Arleen S.
High School Senior
Manhattan Center High School for Science and Math

Children’s Aid Youth Strive to Design the “Perfect School”

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Picture this…a school that you actually looked forward to going to every morning, teachers who are welcoming and encouraging, a place where you know you will be able to grow academically and will surely put you on the right track to GRADUATING college. Students are speaking up and this is what they want. On Thursday, December 9th, approximately 75 middle and high school students, members of The Children’s Aid Society Leadership Programs gathered at I.S. 166 Roberto Clemente School, a Children’s Aid Society Community School. On their agenda…design the “perfect school.” Their ideal school is a place that will help them not only graduate from high school but also graduate from college. The forum was intended to bring together students and elected officials to discuss the issues students face - or witness their peers face - in trying to graduate from high school and attend college. Amongst the panel were Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and Assembly Members Marcos Crespo and Vanessa L. Gibson who have shown great support to the youth of The Children’s Aid Society.Together they came up with possible solutions.

The Youth Council received a My Idea Grant from the America’s Promise Alliance Grad Nation Campaign to support this forum series. The forum was organized by teen leaders Rubi Roman and Justice Hatterson led by Children’s Aid staff Lorena Jimenez-Castro, Government Affairs Liaison and Stacey Campo, Director of Youth Development. The students plan to share their recommendations of the “perfect school” with more elected officials.

How To Shop For Safe, Age-Appropriate Toys This Holiday Season

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The Holiday season is in full swing and the shopping is hitting its final lap. For those of us who still have a long list of names to check off, it is easy to forget the importance in picking age-appropriate toys for our smallest loved ones. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that about 186,000 children were taken to hospital emergency rooms in 2009 to be treated for toy-related injuries. We all want our little ones to be entertained and stimulated by the toys they receive but we must also remember to provide them with gifts that are safe. The way children play with toys has much to do with their age, physical and developmental growth. A few minutes spent researching a child’s activity at specific ages can be helpful when picking out the right toys.

Here are some good gift ideas!

Babies one to three months old enjoy lively and brightly colored toys. While they may not be able to manipulate toys at this age, they do enjoy watching and listening.

  • Musical toys
  • Unbreakable mirrors
  • Teethers
  • Brightly colored stuffed animals

Infants four to seven months of age enjoy grabbing, touching and shaking objects. They have a better ability to manipulate toys.

  • Soft squeeze toys and balls
  • Toys which have holes for easy gripping
  • Soft baby books made of vinyl or cloth
  • Floor gyms
  • A jumper to bounce in

Infants eight to twelve months begin to take an interest in exploring the surrounding environment as they are crawling more and learning to walk. At this age, children can throw, pull, push and drop. Playing with pop-up, musical and push-pull toys will be very engaging at this age.

  • Baby books made of cardboard
  • Pop-up boxes
  • Containers to empty and fill such as cups and small pails
  • Stackable toys in large sizes
  • Bath toys

From one to two years age, toddlers really start on their running, jumping, climbing and exploring. Toys that can be used in these activities would be great.

  • Big balls for throwing and kicking
  • Drawing and coloring books
  • Building blocks
  • Make believe toys (i.e. dinner sets and tools)
  • Wagons
  • Miniature lawn mowers, shopping carts and baby strollers

From three to five years of age a child will begin more imaginative and creative play. Group play will also be more enjoyable too. As communication skills develop, children will begin to show more interest in toys that can be shared with other children.

  • Musical instruments
  • Simple puzzles
  • Non-toxic arts and crafts
  • Card games
  • Sand and water toys
  • Toy telephones
  • Four-wheel riding toys (with a helmet)

Keep Your Teens Actively Safe During the Winter Break

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Winter break is upon us and teenagers find themselves more often on their own during school holidays. There are an estimated 13.7 Million single parent households in the United States with approximately 49.8% single moms and 71% single dads working full-time year round, and those with teenagers are often left unsupervised while out of school. Studies show that unsupervised teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as underage drinking, sexual activity and cigarette smoking than other teens. Planning ahead can help keep your teen safe and out of trouble. It is a good idea to set clear rules, go over upcoming parties and agree on appointed check-in times. It is also important to set-up your teen with engaging activities that will keep them entertained and safe while out of school, all you need is a little creativity. Here a couple of ideas to keep your teens busy this winter break:

  • Earn Extra Spending Money. Are there any full-time working parents in your neighborhood who are wondering who will care for their young children while they are out of school? Maybe your teen can earn some extra money by babysitting for them. Other possible jobs include shoveling snow or tutoring.
  • Give back to the community. What better time to start teaching your teen about the importance in giving back to the community? The holidays are the perfect time to volunteer at your local soup kitchen or food bank. Organizing and running their own toy or clothing drive is a great way to have your teenager stay occupied while experiencing the joys of giving back.
  • Spend Time as a Family. In planning ahead for your teen, is it possible to pencil in some family time as well? The holidays can bulk up an already busy schedule, making it easy to overlook the lack of family bonding. Schedule family activities like game night or movie night and make it a priority. Also plan on visiting family members who rarely get to spend time with your teenagers.

Miracle on Madison A Success Once Again

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The brisk winter wind did not keep shoppers away on the morning of the 24th Annual Miracle on Madison Avenue on Sunday, December 5th! The pre-event shoppers brunch was held this year at the Jimmy Choo boutique on Madison Avenue and was attended by event Chair and Law and Order: SUV star Tamara Tunie; Bob Kelly, CEO of presenting sponsor BNY Mellon; Matthew Bauer, the President of the Madison Avenue BID; Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society and many Children’s Aid staff and supporters. Speeches by Mr. Buery and Mr. Kelly reminded us all that aside from the enjoyment, the day’s shopping would be a tremendous benefit to Children’s Aid health services, which ensure full health care access and preventative care to the neediest children and families of New York City.

This year’s ribbon cutting featured some new faces including The Children’s Aid Society’s new Chairman Mark M. Edmiston and New York City’s Comptroller John C. Liu. The ribbon cutting was the kick-off of the day’s true mission: Shopping! Miracle shoppers up and down the Avenue easily found the 84 participating retailers who were donating 20% of the day’s sales. Those who did not know which shop to hit first were all ears at the “Miracle LYSST”, a holiday gift giving presentation by Lyss Stern of Divalysscious Moms.

The day also featured entertainment by The Pipes of Christmas, presented by the Clan Currie Society, music from The Labor of Love Ensemble, rhythmic performances from COBU, Inc., and joyful sing-a-longs with Figgy Puddynge. Cheerful volunteers and our very own Frosty The Snowman handed out free samples of Lindt Chocolate, Orbit Gum and InStyle Magazines.  

This year’s Miracle Sunday was a wonderful success thanks to the hundreds of volunteers, supporters and shoppers who stood up against the bitter cold air to help New York City’s neediest children and families.  

Children’s Aid Community School Celebrates Thanksgiving

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Participants of P.S. 8, a Children’s Aid Society Community School located in Washington Heights, and their families started their Thanksgiving celebrations a bit early this year. The school opened their doors on the evening of Friday, November 19th to about 450 families of its Early Childhood, After-School programs, Preventive and Family Literacy programs.

The Pre-Thanksgiving feast included Hispanic dishes of Pepper Steak, Roasted Chicken, Morro (rice and beans) and Sweet Plantains. The children ate quickly so that they had enough time get to the dance floor where they grooved, along with staff members, to lively beats provided by a special guest DJ. A raffle closed off the evening where 16 families received a turkey, courtesy of the local McDonalds.