The Children's Aid Blog

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.

Families Enjoyed a Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner Thanks to Top Chefs and Generous Volunteers

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For the 20th year in a row, Food and Beverage Association of America generously provided Thanksgiving dinner to the children and families of The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center. Chefs from some of New York’s finest hotels and restaurants cooked and served the fabulous spread on Wednesday, November 24th. Over fifteen hundred children and families enjoyed the delicious meal which included an amazing 4,000 pounds of turkey with all the trimmings.

Wayne Whinna, Director of Food and Beverage at The Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, and his staff headed the culinary efforts by cooking 247 turkeys at 20 lbs each. Gladys Mouton Di Stefano, the President of the Food and Beverage Association and Director of Food and Beverage for the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, coordinated all food donations and organized the dinner at Dunlevy Milbank. Members of the Food and Beverage Association, their family members and friends donated all the food, decorations and table settings for the dinner. Among the children and families who celebrated were homeless families who live at Children’s Aid’s Pelham Fritz Apartments (a homeless shelter for families) across the street from the Dunlevy Milbank Center; formerly homeless families who return for this special celebration; and hundreds of other families from the Harlem community served by the Dunlevy Milbank Center all year. A DJ entertained the crowd during the meal and a raffle distributed an additional 100 cooked turkeys to the families in attendance.

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.