Kawkab Abid, a senior at International High School at LaGuardia Community College, arrived in Brooklyn from Bangladesh with his family when he was 13. As a high school junior, he was accepted into our Workforce Investment Act youth program, an income-based program that provides job readiness training and internships. Kawkab, whose village in Bangladesh was devastated by typhoons, now plans to become an engineer to help communities like his rebuild and grow stronger. In March, he was one of 13 high school students awarded a prestigious New York Times college scholarship. Kawkab is currently finishing high school and deciding where he will attend college.
Here, Kawkab describes his long journey from his village of Meherpur, Bangladesh, to a high school in Queens–and how his past has shaped his plans for the future.
When a family enrolls a preschooler in a Child Center of NY Head Start program, parents must complete a home inventory that includes the statement, “You see 10 books in the home environment”—and parents answer either “yes” or “no.” More often than not, the answer is “no.”
“Most of the families in our program don’t own books,” explains Marie Mason, Education Director of The Child Center’s Ficalora Family Foundation Head Start Center in Woodside. “Poverty is an issue for the majority of them, and many parents may not be able to read English—or even their native language—and so are unable to read to their children.”
As common sense tells us and research confirms, early exposure to books is key to instilling a lifelong love of reading, and it helps provide a strong foundation for success in school. That’s why our Head Start programs keep classrooms stocked with reading materials. “Our center often provides kids with their first exposure to a collection of books,” says Mason. Teachers read often to the students, who love to listen—but they get really excited when someone new reads to them.
New York City’s public school students return to school today. While their parents have spent the weekend stocking their kids’ backpacks with new pencil cases and notebooks, let’s hope their teachers have stocked their classrooms with toothpicks, cork, coins, and other everyday materials. The reason is simple: These materials can be used in hands-on experiments that encourage trial and error and the application of complex concepts. That’s the right way to teach STEM to tomorrow’s leaders, and it needs to be an integral part of schools and after-school programs—especially those that primarily serve BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and low-income students, and other groups typically underrepresented in STEM fields.
Anna Treppiedi, a.k.a. Ms. New York, is no shrinking violet. As students at the School’s Out New York City (SONYC) after-school program at the Waterside School for Leadership know well, she doesn’t shrink from a challenge, or from any opportunity to speak her mind—especially when the subject is education. That’s why it’s no surprise that she’s a contestant in this year’s Ms. America pageant. Continue reading
Baseball is back in Far Rockaway. A new baseball league called Far Rockaway RBI, for youth ages 6-14, was formed as one of The Child Center of NY’s youth development programs and held its kick-off event last Saturday. The creation of the league was the result of the commitment and collaboration of many community partners, including Major League Baseball (MLB).
With young people of color becoming less and less inclined to play and embrace the game of baseball, MLB established the Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) program to help reverse the trend. Continue reading
Jamaica, Queens has been a part of my life for over two decades. I’ve spent nearly 30 years both working and living in and around this community. As The Child Center of NY’s Associate Executive Director for Youth Development and Community Engagement, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing it not only from my own perspective, but also from that of the next generation. I’ve seen firsthand that Jamaica’s young people are very talented, willing to work hard, and eager to make the most of any opportunity to make a better life for themselves when opportunities are given to them. Such opportunities have been admittedly scarce for them, but a new effort seeks to change that.
Russell Carson gives Kay Howard the Russell L. Carson
Visionary Award for her exemplary work with students at MS 72.
It’s been a wonderful spring: Two of our employees were honored recently for their exceptional service on behalf of the children and families in our programs.
At our Spring Gala on April 28, staff member Kay Howard was awarded the Russell L. Carson Visionary Award, given to a staff member for outstanding dedication and performance.
Students on their way to a rally to save their after-school program.
On June 30, nearly 2000 kids will lose the safe, welcoming place they go to every day after school.
COMPASS, the after-school program started by Bloomberg, was never meant to be a permanent part of the city’s programming. But the city may have underestimated how important these programs would become to the kids they serve.
Providing individualized tutoring and homework help, plus a full slate of enrichment activities to help students find their talents and develop social emotional skills, these programs were desperately needed community resources in underserved neighborhoods, and a waitlist quickly formed. But unless the revised budget, scheduled to be released tomorrow, provides funding for the programs, they will be cut.
Maya Abigail, a student at PS 273, woke up on a Saturday and wrote this letter on behalf of her after-school program.
The 17 locations serve 1900 students citywide. Two locations–PS 96 in South Ozone Park and PS 273 in Richmond Hill–are a part of The Child Center’s youth development programs, and students here have been mounting a campaign to save the programs. They’ve written letters, painted posters, held rallies, marched on Queens Borough Hall, and shared videos and images online.
“It is very scary not knowing what lies next for us,” said Shantryce Hare, the director at the COMPASS program at PS 96 in South Ozone Park. Continue reading
Katie Brennan, one of The Child Center’s board members, believes in the work we do because she has experienced firsthand how important clinical help can be for families.
Katie Brennan, third from left, at the 2012 Child Center Children’s Holiday Party
“When my second child was born in 2007, she was healthy and we brought her home from the hospital 36 hours after her birth. Everything seemed fine until she was three weeks old. She became listless and slept even more than she had in the days following her birth. It turned out that she had viral meningitis. Luckily, viral meningitis is much less serious than bacterial meningitis and her hospital stay was only three nights.
“But the stress of her illness coupled with post-pregnancy hormones left me anxious and depressed, even after her health returned. With professional help — a good therapist, temporary medication and then figuring out that running worked better for me than any actual medication — I was quickly back to feeling like myself, maybe even better than I had ever felt before.
“It was around this time that I was introduced to The Child Center of NY.