20 Jul

Field Trips Keep Kids Learning

Students in the k-3 grade summer program are beating the summer slide by exploring the theme of ‘water’ in books, writing and field trips.

On a recent trip to the Harlem Meer at Central Park, the children used scientific methods to examine water quality and the surrounding environment. They kept track of their observations in field journals.

The children sampled the water for E. coli, bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates and nitrites, chlorine, hardness and pH.  They observed the temperature change in the meer using digital thermometers. And they also identified animals and trees around the park (oak, beech, ginkgo, bald cypress, black locust).

Throughout the summer program, children will continue learning about the environment and about different bodies of water.  By keeping children engaged in learning, our program combats the “summer slide,” the tendency to lose some achievement gains students made the previous year.   In 2017, 93% of children in our summer program gained at least one reading level.

Thank you to the great team of teachers, volunteers and interns from Make the Road and Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) who make trips like these possible!

Children took a field trip to the Harlem Meer

Children took a field trip to the Harlem Meer

Measuring water qualities

The children had the chance to measure different water properties.

A magnifying glass helps students see particles in the water.

A magnifying glass helps students see particles in the water.

Children keep track of their observations in field journals

Children keep track of their observations in field journals

 

06 Jul

Building Bridges Summer Exhibit

June 28, 2018 — Families and guests enjoyed an exhibit of work created by mothers in the Building Bridges of Hope Art Therapy Group entitled Las mujeres inmigrantes somos poderosas / We, the immigrant women, are powerful.   The exhibit included works of papier mache, weaving, felting, doll-making, painting, photography and sculpture, among other techniques.

The Building Bridges group works with women and mothers with children 1.5 to 3 years old.  The goal of the group is to empower women, helping them to increase self-esteem, build confidence, and learn effective ways to deal with stress and prevent the negative impact of toxic stress in their children and themselves.

The group provides support to achieve these goals by providing the clients with the stepping stones in understanding toxic stress and trauma, learning self-expression, reducing feelings of shame and guilt, and developing coping skills to deal with stress, anxiety and depression.

Mónica Sanchez, senior mental health counselor and licensed art therapist, led the group, with the assistance of Argelia Tlatelpa.  Our special thanks go to:

  • Partners SAORI Arts NYC, Mano a Mano and Materials for the Arts for lending their expertise t o our workshops and providing art materials and other resources.
  • The musicians who came together for this special concert for LSA’s clients performing songs that were especially selected for our clients: Mireya Ramos, Grammy winner and founder of Flor de Toloache, violin and voice; Nilko Andreas Guarin, guitar and voice;  Sinuhé Padilla, leona and voice; Sebastián Cruz , guitar, requinto and voice.
  • The mothers in the group who brought so much heart to each project.
  • Childcare providers Natividades Prudente and Eulogio Cortez and volunteer Bonnie Jurkschat, who allow mothers in the group the time to reflect, heal and learn.

Below are a few photos from the exhibit.

Monica Sanchez (center) introduces the musicians who performed for guests at the special exhibit.

05 Jul

PCD Graduates Blossom

“Flowers Growing in Life’s Garden” was the theme of graduation for forty 3-year-olds and their parents in our early childhood socialization groups, part of our Parenting and Child Development program.

The program is geared toward families for children 0-3 year old, where there is some risk of developmental delay in the child.  Through the socialization groups and one-on-one home visits, LSA’s early childhood specialists guide parents with parenting techniques to help their children achieve developmental milestones at the appropriate time.  The five focus areas of the program are: attachment and healthy separation, language and literacy, exploration and learning, self regulation and emotional development, and connections to outside resources.

All of the children graduating are either already enrolled in a “3k” or other preschool program, or being assisted by our LIFE (Linking Immigrant Families to Early Childhood Education) project coordinators.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends high-quality early education and child care to improve childrens’ outcomes and prepare them for school.

The graduation theme, “Flowers Growing in Life’s Garden,” was visible everywhere, with flowers decorating the walls of LSA’s 3rd floor.  Teachers dressed as insects and children wore flower tee-shirts.  LSA wishes all the graduating families a happy summer and joyous start in their new schools this fall!

12 Jun

New Paths to Family Health

Our six core programs offer vital health and social services to improve family health and well-being. In addition, services offered through our program partners, like financial literacy classes, nutrition workshops, summer camp programs, and legal services offered right in our community center give families opportunities to learn and build a strong foundation for the future.Below are some of our newest initiatives to improve the quality of life for New York families.

VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program – LSA partners with the Food Bank for New York City on VITA to connect low-income New Yorkers with free tax preparation services. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) serves people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and others who need assistance in preparing their returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. In 2018, LSA was able to offer VITA to over 30 clients.

LIFE Project – Through the LIFE (Linking Immigrant Families to Early Childhood Education) Project, LSA promotes enrollment in PreK for four-year-olds and in the new “3K” program for three-year-olds. The goal is to make more families in the neighborhood of East Harlem aware of the availability of these programs offered by the NYC Department of Education. The PreK and 3K programs offer free, high-quality early childhood education. Studies show that early childhood education sets children up for success throughout their school years. During the enrollment period, LSA staff members have been holding information sessions in the community and offering hands-on assistance to parents interested in enrolling children in these programs. The LIFE project is available through a grant from the New York Immigration Coalition.


“Our partnerships really expand what we’re able to offer families,” said Ray Lopez, Director of Programs at LSA Family Health Service. “By collaborating with other organizations, we’re able to give families even more tools to build a stronger future and, ultimately, a stronger community.”


New Domestic Violence Protocol for Preventive Services – Earlier this year, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice announced a new protocol to help identify and intervene in domestic violence cases. Under this new protocol, families in high-risk cases who are receiving prevention services like those offered at LSA will be screened for risk factors and helped to develop safety plans. LSA’s A-rated Preventive Services program is funded by ACS and will be following this new protocol, working with investigative consultants to strengthen our program and ensure the safety and well-being of children.

Nutrition and Language – East Harlem is home to a vibrant immigrant community, including families from Latin America who speak indigenous languages and have rich cultural traditions dating back to pre-Columbian times. To respond to their specific language and health needs, LSA partners with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) to offer health and nutrition classes to speakers of Mixtec (spoken in parts of Mexico), Mam (spoken by a Mayan group in Guatemala), and other indigenous languages. The classes offer community members ideas for nutritious and culturally relevant meals. Through this partnership, the DOHMH is reaching a segment of the population that it has not engaged with in the past.

Women Empowered to Lead (WE Lead) Community Navigator and Mentorship Program – Kudos to Melina Gonzalez (pictured above on the left), LSA’s Immigration Outreach Organizer, for being accepted into the WE Lead Program’s Immigration Navigator Cohort through the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). This opportunity will allow Melina to become a Department of Justice Certified Instructor.The WE Lead Community Navigator Program is a women’s empowerment training and workforce development initiative — launched by The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), Jones Day Law Firm and Cities for Citizenship (C4C) — to train Community Navigators, empower immigrant women and their communities, and expand immigration legal services.


This story originally appeared in the Spring 2018 Open Door Newsletter.  By Barbara Norcia-Broms.

Photo above:  Tamara received her tax return check after filing through the VITA program

06 Jun

Yarn Painting Workshop with Mano a Mano

On Thursday, Mano a Mano joined parents in our nursing and art therapy groups to lead a yarn painting workshop through it’s Mexico in New York program. They made Wixara-inspired yarn paintings. Through the program, mothers in our Building Bridges art therapy group have also learned how to make a Tsikuri yarn object (“el ojo De Dios”) and paper flowers inspired by Mexican folk art traditions.

The yarn paintings are inspired by the visionary art of the Wixarika (Huichol) people native to the Mexican states of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit and Zacatecas. Using multicolored yarns, each participant created a unique artwork based in traditional designs.

Our art therapy workshops target mothers in the community.  They offer the women who participate an important opportunity to connect with each  other and with their own thoughts and emotions through the vehicle of self expression.

Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders is a New York-based non-profit organization  dedicated to celebrating Mexican culture and promoting the understanding of Mexican traditions.   Mexico in New York is a program designed to bring Mexican art and culture to classrooms and community groups. All activities include a lecture on the history of the tradition followed by a workshop or live music and dance performances.

21 Apr

Planting Seeds for Earth Day

Planting Seeds Earth Day

Children in our Parenting & Child Development program planted seeds in honor of Earth Day

The socialization classes, which are geared toward children 0-3 years old and their parents, involve activities that nurture age-appropriate development.

For Earth Day, that meant decorating planters out of recycled bottles, filling them with soil and planting seeds in them.  The group also did an activity honoring the four elements of earth, air, wind and fire.

These activities encouraged parents as well as children to be good stewards of the earth.

In addition, children in grades K-3 who participate in our after school program learned about conservation and created a mural in honor of Earth Day.

Earth Day 2018

Children and parents worked together to decorate planters made from recycled water bottles.

Earth Day 2018

The children planted seeds and will watch them grow in the coming weeks.

Earth Day 2018

A display includes native seeds, a drum, a seashell, and other items to represent the elements of earth, air, fire and water.

Rain didn’t stop the Earth Day festivities

 

Students in the After School program work on a mural for Earth Day

Students in the After School program show off their Earth Day mural

16 Apr

#foundatthesharingplace campaign takes off!

#foundatthesharingplace

A new campaign features fun fashion #foundatthesharingplace

This National Volunteer Week, we salute the many volunteers who help make all we do possible!  Kaitlyn Marie Jackson, the creative force behind the #foundatthesharingplace campaign, is a great example. Photos can be seen on the Instagram account for The Sharing Place, LSA Family Health Service’s thrift store, this April.

Kaitlyn is a student at Pace University majoring in arts and entertainment  and with double minors in photography and special events marketing.  She had been volunteering at the thrift store when she came up with the idea for the campaign.

“The campaign started with a class advocacy project assignment and I decided to combine my culture, passions, and education to create the #foundatthesharingplace campaign,” said Kaitlyn.

The campaign features selected items from the store, modeled by her friends and styled and photographed by Kaitlyn herself.  The vibrant photos show off The Sharing Place’s amazing low prices.

“Volunteering with the Sharing Place has allowed me to find and help a community very similar to mine, which I have missed since my move from Texas to New York,” Kaitlyn said. “I love that I get to help both indirectly, through the marketing campaign and directly, in the store.”

Follow @thesharingplace to see more of Kaitlyn’s fantastic photos!

16 Apr

Geography Workshop

An introduction to the world…

Five high school students from the Dalton School have been introducing children in our after school program to the globe in a weekly geography class.  Developed by geography enthusiast Ryan McCormack, the workshop has helped the young participants to expand their view of the world and their place in it.

Ryan describes the experience of leading the after school workshop, below.

My name is Ryan McCormack, and I go to the Dalton School on the Upper East Side. For my entire life, Geography has been a passion of mine. For that reason I began a Geography Club at my school. Finding success in this, I realized that my pursuit of spreading my joy of Geography should not be limited to my community.

I reached out to LSA last year with the idea of beginning a workshop for the students, and when I found out that we had the green light, I was incredibly excited. Along with a few other students, including Tyler Azzam, Max Radomisli, Oliver Fisher, and Noah Delgado de Torres, we have begun to host a workshop each Thursday after we finish school.


“The entire experience has been incredibly fulfilling for all of us.”


Working last year with kids from Kindergarten to 3rd grade, we decided it would be best to begin with something that is incredibly important when it comes to world geography: understanding the continents. The continents can be used as a starting point to understand countless other areas of geography, such as countries, oceans, rivers, and mountains.

After the students learned the continents, they became much more receptive and excited about other aspects of geography, which opened the door to successful and engaging lessons. Before we knew it, the students began to know different countries, native animals, and indigenous plants all around the world.

This year, we began working with around 15 kids from 3rd grade, and now we have been working with kids in Kindergarten. The entire experience has been incredibly fulfilling for all of us, and there are specific moments which remind me of this. For example, one time, as we were examining different countries, I mentioned Mexico, which visibly brought excitement to much of the class, whose parents hailed from Mexico. It’s moments like this one that definitely have a great impact on me, as it shows that my work is actually bringing joy and interest to the children.

Geography has been important to me for my entire life, and I hope that I can get the younger generation of kids interested in the subject that is so important for understanding the entire world. I definitely have a new understanding of myself as a result of volunteering, and my work with the children at LSA has made me want to turn to more volunteering in the future, and I have realized how important it is to educate the new generation. Even if what I do does not specifically impact the understanding students may have with geography, I want my work to be able to spark their interest in the same way that it sparked mine when I first looked at an atlas in third grade.

23 Mar

Women’s History Month

Our youth programs celebrated Women’s History Month with Art!

Parents and daughters took self portraits in “Rosie the Riveter” poses, with Rosie’s iconic red bow in their hair.  Families also learned about one of the historic founders of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, Antionette Fage.  Boys in the group made a beautiful collage, reflecting on what “Woman” means to them.  Their collage reflected images of strength and love.

All month, children in the after school program have been reading books about women who have had historic impact.  The person they enjoyed reading about the most was Malala Yousafzai – they were so impressed by her accomplishments in the face of adversity that some of the children asked if they could meet her.  Artist Liam Critt created a beautiful  wooden plaque with Malala’s image and an inspirational quote.

     Women's History Month

Artwork by Liam Crill @crillwoodwork

 

 

 

 

08 Mar

Saluting Social Workers

We celebrate National Social Worker Month this March by saluting the wonderful social workers in our Preventive Services program.  This program contracts with the Administration for Children’s Services to work intensively with families to prevent the placement of children in foster care.  The program is recognized for its excellent work throughout the city and has a 98% success rate in keeping families together.

We thank social workers at LSA and everywhere for all they do!

Photo above: members of our Preventive Services department (r-l) Regina Sherman, Karen Williams, Nilsa Welsh, Lenequa Campbell, Yessica Sherman, and Georgina Ogilve.