Our Programs

Children’s Book Author Inspires Students through History

Students of P.S. 223 participating in a performance by Hasan Davis

When Hasan Davis, former Commissioner of Juvenile Justice for Kentucky and Annie E. Casey Foundation Fellow, was in third grade, he flipped through his social studies textbook and came across its sole image of an African American. It was a photo of a beaten, elderly man, and the caption read, “American Negro slave.”

“I had been looking for that story of me, as an African American,” Davis says. “When I saw that photo, I thought, ‘This is all there is to my story.’”

Davis as York

Davis credits his mother with teaching him stories about black people’s contributions to this country, and to society at large, that changed his perception. But he never wants children of color to feel the way he did flipping through that textbook, so he’s made it his life’s work to get stories of African American contributions into the hands of young people. Most recently, he’s done that by writing the children’s book The Journey of York: The Unsung Hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The book tells the story of the slave who not only accompanied Lewis and Clark on their famed journey, but also was a pivotal partner who contributed greatly to its success—a fact that most people still don’t know. Davis has been making that story come to life through a one-man show at schools around the country. On April 17, Davis brought his show to The Child Center of NY’s P.S. 223 COMPASS (afterschool) program. The show included a powerful reenactment by Davis, followed by an equally powerful dialogue with the children related to race, slavery, and history.

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From Pre-K to K: Escalera Students Get Ready for Kindergarten

Escalara Head Start students
Escalara Head Start student holding a butterfly

September is synonymous with “back to school,” but in the 4-year-old class at our Escalera Head Start, Lead Teacher Katherine Beltran and Assistant Teacher Saptashikha Chowdhury have been actively preparing their students for September since June. That’s because all of their students will be entering kindergarten this fall. 

It’s a big transition, Ms. Katherine notes, and the children may have a lot of apprehensions about being in a new school with new teachers, classmates, routines, and expectations. 

Ms. Katherine and her staff began by introducing the children to one of the classic stories of metamorphosis — that of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly — but with a twist: They had the students act out the transformation themselves, starting by scrunching up into a ball to represent the egg, wiggling like a caterpillar, crouching down to mimic the chrysalis stage, and culminating in the butterfly yoga pose, which the children had already learned. 

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The Child Center and JetBlue Help Kids Soar with Reading!

In 2016, The Child Center of NY launched its #DreamsTakeFlight campaign, encouraging children to let their dreams soar. This summer, JetBlue has joined us to help our kids rise to a new level in a different way with its Soar with Reading (SWR) campaign.

SWR is an initiative that places thoughtfully designed vending machines that dispense brand-new, free books for kids ages Pre-K–14 in under-resourced communities. Children are allowed to take as many books as they are interested in so that they can continue learning and reading during the summer and begin their own home library.

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The NY Mets and The Child Center of NY to Build a Playground in Far Rockaway with KaBOOM!

Dix Avenue Apartments, Far Rockaway

Dix Ave. Apartments in Far Rockaway, the site of the new playground

There’s something really exciting in the works in Far Rockaway, Queens. On Thursday, May 30, 200 community volunteers from The New York Mets Foundation, the Workforce Housing Group, and The Child Center of NY will join forces with KaBOOM! — a national non-profit dedicated to building playgrounds for all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America — to transform an empty site at the Dix Avenue Apartments into a kid-designed, state-of-the-art playground in just SIX HOURS. Continue reading

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