Look at that smile! Patricia, 9, is a participant of The Child Center of NY’s Redfern Cornerstone Community Center, where the “Making Waves” program—a partnership with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene—provided opportunities for our summer campers to learn and enhance swimming skills. Continue reading
Mets reps from the Black Professionals and LatinX Employee Resource Groups connect with Queens youth at our Basie Beacon program at M.S. 72
Introducing youth to new possibilities is a key way The Child Center of NY works to increase high school graduation rates — one of The Child Center’s central goals — and get young people excited about preparing for their future.
On February 5, The Child Center of NY collaborated with the NY Mets and the Queens District Attorney’s Office to host a career panel at our Basie Beacon Program at Catherine and Count Basie Middle School 72 in Jamaica. Continue reading
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Breinny es una estudiante en el grado 12 de la escuela Pan American International High School en Elmhurst, NY. Desde mayo 2021, ella ha estado recibiendo terapia con Gerda González, LMSW, en su lengua maternal de español, usando el centro de bienestar basado en su escuela. Esta es su historia en sus propias palabras.
Crecí con mi padre en la república dominicana y vine a los estados unidos a vivir con mi madre hace dos años atrás. Han habido muchas cosas positivas de estar aquí. He podido conocer a muchas differentes personas y de muchas culturas diferentes. He hecho muchos buenos amigos. Nunca había vivido con mi madre antes, y me costaba mucho acostumbrarme a estar con ella. Teníamos problemas con comunicación, y no sabia bien que hacer. Me estaba sintiendo desperanzada, preocupada, y estresada acerca del futuro. Yo estaba perdiendo motivación para la escuela y empecé a separarme de mis amistades y familia.
Una maestra notó que estaba pasando y me recomendó para servicios de salud mental en el centro de bienestar de mi escuela.
Al principio, no estaba segura, pero después de mi primera sesión, empecé a sentir que un gran peso de encima se había levantado de mis hombros. Yo sentí que podia respirar mas facilmente.
La terapia me ha ayudado a encontrar a alguien que escuche mis problemas sin juzgar y aprender habilidades que me ayudan cada dia. Puedo pensar mas críticamente y ser menos impulsiva cuando tomo decisiones. Pienso mucho antes de actuar. Mi relación con mi madre ha mejorado gracias a las habilidades de comunicación que he aprendido, y las estrategias para lidiar que me han ayudado con momentos difíciles en la escuela. Siento que si no hubiera recibido terapia, mi relación con mi madre estaría peor ahora, y no podría esforzarme en la escuela.
Ahora mismo estoy en 12 grado, y antes de recibir servicios, había perdido la esperanza de ir a la universidad. Miss Gerda me conectó con adultos en mi escuela quienes me ayudaron entender el proceso para aplicar para la universidad.
Lo que aprendo en terapia me ayuda para el futuro. Veo el mundo de una forma mas positiva. Tengo una buena relación con mis compañeros. Tengo metas claras para mi future y quiero ser exitosa. Tengo metas de convertirme mas independiente y ir a una universidad buena. ¡Mis notas son excelentes! Estoy muy bien en la escuela y tengo notas en los altos 90 en todas mis clases ahora. He podido enfocarme en la escuela, mientras antes de empezar terapia, me costaba.
He encontrado algo mas que disfruto: siendo líder de Peer Group Connection (PGC). Siendo lider de PGC, ayudo a los alumnos de noveno a integrarse a la escuela secundaria y aprender acerca de otras cosas aparte de lo académico. Tengo un grupo de alumnos de noveno con los que trabajo, y jugamos juegos juntos y creamos un vínculo mas fuerte. Es muy divertido ser una líder de PGC. Me encanta conocer a los alumnos y ayudarlos crear una comunidad mejor para nuestra escuela.
Cuando quieres algo, no es siempre fácil conseguirlo, pero si vale la pena. Terapia me ha ayudado a aprender que es importante continuar a esforzarse a derrotar adversidades y trabajar hacia tus metas – y me ha enseñado que si soy capaz de conseguirlas.
Breinny’s Story (in English)
Breinny is a senior at Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Queens. Since May 2021, she has received therapy with Gerda Gonzalez, LMSW, in her native language of Spanish, through her school’s school-based mental health wellness center. This is her story in her own words.
I grew up with my father in the Dominican Republic and came to the United States to live with my mom two years ago. There have been a lot of good things about being here. I have been able to meet many different people from many different cultures. I have made good friends. But I had never lived with my mother before, and I was struggling to get used to being with her. We had issues with communication, and I didn’t know what to do. I was feeling hopeless, worried, and stressed about the future. I was losing my motivation in school and even began to withdraw from my friends and family.
A teacher noticed what was going on and recommended me for mental health services through my school’s wellness center.
At first, I wasn’t sure, but after my first session, I began to feel like a giant weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe more easily.
Therapy has helped me find someone who can hear my issues without judging and guide me in learning skills that help me deal with challenges. I am able to think more critically and be less impulsive about decisions. I think a lot more before I act. My relationship with my mother is better thanks to communication skills I have learned, and coping strategies have helped me handle difficult moments in school. I feel like if I had not gotten therapy, my relationship with my mother would be worse now, and I would not be trying so hard in school.
I’m currently a senior, and before receiving services, I had lost hope in attending college. Miss Gerda connected me to adults in my school who could help me understand the college application process.
What I learn in therapy will help me in the future. I see the world in a more positive way. I have a good relationship with my classmates. I have clear goals for my future and want to be successful. I have goals of becoming independent and attending a good college. My grades are really great! I’m doing so well in school and have high 90s in all of my classes now. I’ve been able to focus on my schoolwork, which used to be a struggle before beginning therapy.
I found something else I enjoy: being a Peer Group Connection (PGC) leader. As a PGC leader, I help freshmen integrate into high school and learn about things other than academics. I have a group of ninth graders I engage with, and we play games together to help create a stronger bond. It is really fun to be a PGC leader. I love meeting students and helping them create a better community for our school.
When you want something, it isn’t always easy to get it, but it is worth it. Therapy has helped me learn that it is important to continue to strive to defeat adversities and work toward your goals — and it’s taught me that I really am capable of achieving them.
When I first got to middle school, I was super quiet and didn’t have the confidence to talk to anyone, unless they spoke to me first.
This lack of confidence affected my attitude toward my schoolwork. I came into school hating ELA. But Ms. Barkan, who started off as my 6th grade ELA teacher, took her time with me and helped me understand everything.
It took some time, but I began to look forward to Ms. Barkan’s class. We built a strong bond, and when she asked me to participate in the Steps to Success* SONYC-QSI program, I accepted, knowing I would have time to talk with Ms. Barkan.
At first, I was scared to open up to Ms. Barkan and everyone in the group, but I saw that she and the group wouldn’t judge me for expressing my feelings and stating my opinions. They gave me the confidence to speak up and even provide others with advice.
Whenever I experienced any hardships, like others talking badly to me or about me, Ms. Barkan would be the first person I would go to because I didn’t feel judged by her and I knew she would listen and provide guidance. With Steps to Success, I felt that I always had someone to talk to about my feelings, and I knew they were listening to me, wanting to help me and not judge me.
Without Steps to Success and Ms. Barkan, I would still be this shy person, instead of the confident and outgoing person I have become through the program. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.
Abigail’s Story: Ms. Barkan’s Perspective
By Jessica Barkan, Youth Advocate, the Parsons SONYC program at Q252, The Queens School of Inquiry
Abigail’s story is one that is extra special to me because she started off as my sixth-grade student, right before the pandemic hit, and then Abigail became my mentee in the Steps to Success* program the next school year.
I want you to picture a shy girl who can’t make eye contact, who tries to hide in her hoodie, and who has the lowest of confidence socially and academically. A girl who doesn’t believe she is smart enough to answer questions or as good of a writer as other students.
Due to feeling this way, her grades were lower than they should have been. Abigail was in danger of failing and having to go to summer school. Regarding the social aspect, Abigail didn’t have friends in her class, and it took her a long time to socialize and feel comfortable enough to talk to other students.
This was Abigail when I first met her. My goal was to get her out of her hard shell and build her confidence.
I somehow convinced Abigail to join Steps to Success, promising that it would help her with her social skills and confidence. I even told her that I would make time for one-on-one sessions where she could tell me what she needed support in, and I would walk her through it all.
The process wasn’t easy or quick, but Abigail put in the work. She showed up every day to Steps to Success (remotely at the time, which was an even bigger deal) and participated. I made sure the topics would be of interest to her and relatable. She loved debating and talking about controversial topics, whether those topics had to do with gender, culture, bias, or even just basic communication skills. I had Abigail lead conversations, and this led her to be more confident in sharing her feelings about different topics of discussion.
Over time, Abigail would be the first one to show up to the Steps to Success Google Meet, ready for the next topic. She would confidently participate in conversations and then listen attentively to the day’s discussion.
I started to notice positive changes in other aspects of Abigail’s life. She was completing all of her assignments and receiving passing grades in subjects in which she had struggled previously. She was initiating conversation with other students who were on the “quieter” side, like she herself was. In so doing, she began to come out of her shell, which provided her with more confidence to get her work done. It was as if the social aspect were motivating her to care more about her academics.
Abigail, too, noticed the change. She told me she felt proud of herself because she was doing better in school, felt more confident communicating her feelings to teachers and friends, and finally could appreciate what she brought to the table.
Although Steps to Success was not the easiest or most comfortable process for Abigail, she no longer hides. She is now able to make eye contact, express herself without pause, and feel proud of herself. She has put herself out there socially and has tried harder academically. Is Abigail’s shell still there? Of course, but it is a lot softer now.
*Steps to Success is made possible at The Child Center of NY with funding from Sterling National Bank Charitable Foundation.
As NYC students returned to classrooms this September, The Child Center of NY provided backpacks for families in need through our 2021 Backpack Drive. This year, with the help of our visionary sponsor, Chobani, we raised more than $84,000 and provided backpacks and school supplies for 4,000 students.
In addition to generously donating $25,000, Chobani visited our afterschool program in Elmhurst to distribute backpacks, school supplies, and snacks to local families. Continue reading
My name is Logan, and I’m in sixth grade. I live in Flushing with my grandmother and my mom, who is a Utilization Management Nurse. While she works, I go to the Beacon afterschool program at Parsons Community School.
At first I liked Parsons just because most of the kids from my school were in it. I also made new friends, and the staff are so nice and have given us so much. For example, they have a lot of events like the game truck, paint nights, and food giveaways. They are easy to talk to, and a challenge they helped me with was talking to some of the other kids. The staff help us with any problems we have. For example, when someone is hurt they would take care of it. Ms. Jayme helps me with my homework, like math, which is my favorite subject. She was very patient and helped me a lot. I know I can go to any of them with any problems I need help with.
I’ve been going to Parsons for two and half years. I still like going to Parsons because of my friends and the staff, and I also like going because the activities are a lot of fun. I do activities like graphic design, color theory, and coding. Color theory teaches me different things like the color categories and types. Graphic design is a program that helps me make pictures on the computer. Coding taught me how to make characters to build videos and other programs on the computer. All of these can help me reach my goal of becoming a heart surgeon because everything uses computers. I also play basketball when we go in person!
Parsons Beacon always has something special going on, in addition to our regular activities. One of my favorites was the Just a Kid from Queens speaker series. I got to see how people like me, from my neighborhood, grew up and went on to do interesting things. What I liked about the series was the information they had to say and the lesson I learned every time. My favorite speaker was Jean-Wesley because he is disciplined and has a passion for becoming a wine sommelier even though not a lot of Black men do that job. He went to school and worked at the same time. He also comes from a diverse background and has worked in different kinds of jobs. He let me know I can do whatever I want in life.
Note from Logan’s mom, Bianca: “I love the Parsons Beacon Program because it affords the participants opportunities to learn about so many things that are integral to succeeding in the world of technology and arts we live in today. Not only do they provide skills training, they also provide role models to show the kids where and how far their skills will take them. Parsons’ staff puts great effort into the success of their program and exude their love for the kids and community every step of the way. They are a true example of excellence in community service and development!”
Queens natives inspire a new generation at our Parsons Beacon afterschool program
The Child Center of NY prioritizes hiring people from the neighborhoods we serve and providing relatable role models that convey to our children just how much they are capable of achieving.
Our Parsons Beacon afterschool program’s “Just a Kid from Queens” virtual speaker series, which ran from December to June, highlighted Queens natives who are doing amazing things with their lives and gave participants a unique opportunity to ask questions, learn about fulfilling career paths, and connect their current lives to the future they envision. Equally important, the young people in the program learned how people like them faced challenges, both personal and societal, and met with success. Continue reading
Celebrations Look Different, Spirit Is the Same
At The Child Center of NY, we know every day is a day to observe, study, and appreciate Black History. From the first days of our nation when York played a pivotal role in the Lewis and Clark expedition, to today’s Black luminaries like President Barack Obama and Presidential Inauguration poet Amanda Gorman, Black Americans are an integral part of the fabric of our country.
That’s why in honor of Black History Month, many Child Center programs took the time not only to study and appreciate Black History, but also to celebrate it.
The staff at Redfern Cornerstone Community Center have been my angels. That was true before COVID, and it is even more true now.
I’m a single mom who works as a home health aide. I have a 6-year-old son, Terrell, and a daughter at college.
Terrell first began going to Redfern for summer camp in 2019 when he was 5 years old. He had the time of his life. He would come home and tell me stories about all the people he met. It was just so welcoming and friendly. Before this, he was in the house all day, and being at Redfern really opened him up. They introduced him to arts and crafts, which he enjoys a lot.
When the summer ended, I was glad to learn that Redfern offered an afterschool program and signed him up right away. I was grateful for the homework help, and Terrell loved the field trips. His favorite was ice skating. I was so terrified to let him go, but he said, “I’m gonna be fine, don’t worry about it!” And he was. The staff sent me a video of him on the ice. He was so happy! The program really broadened Terrell’s horizons and gave him experiences he wouldn’t otherwise have had. They also helped him with behavioral issues, and I saw a real difference. Life had settled into a good routine, which is very helpful when you’re a single mom!
Then COVID hit. Everything went south and shut down. We muddled through the spring with my daughter home from college to watch Terrell, but I wasn’t sure what we were going to do for the summer. At least with virtual learning at school he was somewhat engaged. I worried that during the summer he’d have nothing.
I was so glad when I found out that Redfern would be doing summer camp. It was virtual, and I wasn’t sure how it would work, but it turned out great. My daughter was able to provide supervision, but with the programming through Redfern, she didn’t have to entertain him all day. He got to interact with his friends and the staff, whom he loves.
Once school started back up again and my daughter had to go back to college, I didn’t know what to do — again — since school was going to be virtual. I seriously contemplated quitting my job because my son had to come first.
That’s when Redfern got the green light to open for the Learning Bridges program. This has helped me out a whole lot!
Learning Bridges is for students who need a safe space to conduct their virtual learning during school hours. Terrell attends virtual school while he’s at Redfern, and staff are there to make sure he stays on task and to answer any questions or help with any problems.
When the kids come in in the morning, they sign in, wash their hands, and log on to class. They take little breaks throughout the day, and staff make sure they log back on in time for their next class. And although there are a lot of kids there, they make it work. The staff gave noise-cancelling headphones to any students who didn’t have them, and they give them a private place to work when needed. Once Terrell’s teacher wanted to test his reading, and I asked the staff if he could have a quieter area for the testing. They said no problem.
When the school day ends, they transition right into the center’s afterschool program, where Terrell can get his homework done and participate in enrichment activities, which he can’t get enough of. At 5:30 when I pick him up, I ask him what he likes about the center, and he’ll say, “I like to make things with clay!” or “I like the new games.” He also talks about the staff and how he likes that [Group Leader] Ms. Shantrice colors with him. He also loves [Program Site Coordinator] Mr. Keith, [Program Coordinator] Ms. Rosmary, and [Program Director] Mr. Simeon, who is amazing and always makes sure Terrell is OK. They’re all great, and I think of them as a team. As a mom, it makes me so glad to know my son is well-cared for all day and happy.
It’s like one big family here. The staff really treat your child like their own. Everyone knows them and cares about them. Especially during the pandemic, I needed the help really bad, and this program saved me. That’s why I say they’re my angels. The best thing I ever could have done was sign Terrell up for Redfern.