On Tuesday, May 24, 2016, the LYFE Program hosted its fourth Student Parent Graduate Recognition Ceremony, titled Let LYFE Inspire You. The event was held at Columbia University!
Across LYFE’s 35 sites, LYFE had over 100 LYFE student parents graduating from the New York City Department of Education high schools and programs in the 2015-2016 school year. The ceremony was a great success with nearly 300 guests including, student parent graduates, their children, LYFE staff, and external partners in attendance to celebrate and recognize LYFE student parents and their amazing triumphs.
Here are a few highlights from our spectacular and inspiring award ceremony:
- The Gonzalez Family, received the LYFE Legacy Award to honor their engagement and success as a family in LYFE. While many young parents lose the support of their families when they themselves become parents, Rosanell Gomez from LYFE at Thomas Jefferson High School’s mother, Anel Gomez, has supported Rosanell and grandson, Gabriel with attending school and LYFE every day, which has resulted in Rosanell receiving numerous attendance awards at school. As a family, both Rosanell and her mother, volunteer in the LYFE classroom and often contribute food and helping hands during LYFE program events. They also serve as mentors to other LYFE student parents and families, helping them to strive for success and overcome everyday challenges.
- Alexandra Torero-Chambers, a student parent from LYFE at Franklin K. Lane was the recipient of the LYFE Inspiration Award, which recognized her resilience toward academic achievement. Over the years, Alexandra has experienced a lot of family loss which left her with limited resources, severed relationships, and minimal support as a single parent. Alexandra overcame the hardships of her upbringing and personal challenges, evolving into a more positive, amendable, and receptive student and parent. There was a time when Alexandra was not attending school regularly and shied away from guidance. Alexandra is now relentless in the pursuit of her education and even rides a bike to school daily with two children in tow, no matter the weather, to make sure she and her children are in school.
- Diana Jimenez, LYFE student parent and student speaker was awarded the LYFE Academic Achievement Award for her excellence in completing her high school education. Diana, an 18 year-old student parent and mother of 3-year-old, Ethan Jimenez. In addition to these achievements, Diana also participated in community service projects and internship experiences during high school career. Her accomplishments include maintaining an A- average, while working part-time, participating in community service and Army ROTC. In addition to these achievements, Diana also participated in community service projects and internship experiences during high school career. Diana will receive a Regents Diploma in June 2016 from Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology. Her academic performance and commitment to service has resulted in receiving an Army ROTC scholarship. Diana will attend BMCC in the Fall of 2016 and plans to study computer science.
- Susan Farrell-LaPlante, Social Worker from LYFE at Dewitt Clinton received the LYFE Staff Support Award. Susan was nominated by 3 student parents this year. She is described by her students as amazing, supportive, trustworthy, patient, caring and helpful. Susan has continuously and relentlessly helped student parents apply for Regents appeals. Given her diligence as an advocate, students have gone on to pass the Regents and graduate on time! This would not have been possible without her knowledge and tenacious spirit. Moreover, she has supported student parents with strengthening relationships within their families and as co- parents where they have had little hope of reconciliation. In her practice, Susan has developed and facilitated support groups for fathers and groups for the parents/guardians of student parents. This has helped families as a whole to become more cohesive and more empowered to navigate community resources and reach their personal goals.
- Congratulations to the LYFE student parent graduates, to the LYFE award winners and to all the LYFE staff members who helped these students reach their goals and realize their potential, academically and socially.
On May 21, 2016, LYFE social workers Diane Whitaker, Sarah Kaplan, Jodi Kaltner, and Naomi Greenberg represented the LYFE program at the NYC Baby Shower for Young Parents. The event took place at The Children’s Aid Society – Next Generation Center in the South Bronx. Amazing people came to support the South Bronx community, including, Assemblyman Michael Blake, who gave an inspiring speech about his own experience as a child of a young mother. In addition to receiving valuable information pertaining to New York City services, families were also treated to a special reading of “Love is/ El Amores” by Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.
On Saturday, May 7, 2016, LYFE attended The NYC Baby Shower held at Beach Channel High School in Far Rockaway, Queens. LYFE teacher, Caterine Lugo, and LYFE social worker, Naomi Greenberg, from LYFE at Long Island City High School, spoke to new and expecting parents about LYFE’s supportive services. In addition to learning about NYC agencies, attendees were inspired by guest speakers, Jeremy Kohomban, President & CEO of the Children’s Village, Benita Miller, Executive Director of NYC Children’s Cabinet, Michele Titus, NY State Assembly Member, and First Lady of NYC, Chirlane McCray. Children enjoyed the special reading of the book, “Love Is/Amor Es” by the First Lady of NYC. LYFE is having a blast meeting families throughout the five boroughs and is looking forward to attending the next Baby Shower, specifically for young parents, on May 21st in the Bronx!
For the 3rd year in a row, LYFE participated in the District 79 Arts Showcase at the Queens Museum. The showcase was a unique opportunity for all D79 programs to share their artistic talents and for all families and staff from each program to come together under one roof. Highlights from LYFE’s exhibit can be found below.
Week of the Young Child – Artsy Thursday
LYFE sites program-wide participated in the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Week of the Young Child (WOYC). WOYC was created to celebrate early learning, young children, their teachers and families. Featured in this exhibit is artwork from LYFE students at Hillcrest High School, Dewitt Clinton High School, and Prospect Heights Educational Campus created on Artsy Thursday. The goal of Artsy Thursday was to create open-ended art projects that allow children to use their imaginations, create with their hands, and develop creativity, social skills and fine motor skills.
LYFE at Hillcrest High School
To build community and foster creativity, LYFE students were given various materials to choose from. Starting with a large piece of paper on the ground, the children used their hands and car rollers with tracks to add color to the surface. To complete the activity, the children used glue, string, and foam to add texture to the artwork. Through this activity, children enhanced their social learning skills and had fun exploring art.
LYFE at Dewitt Clinton High School
To create a three-dimensional painting, LYFE students mixed two paint colors in cups to create new colors. The children added the newly created colors to cardboard blocks using their hands and brushes. The children then attached the tissue paper with diluted glue to add a second layer. Once the artwork dried, the children placed the third and final layer to the artwork by adding sponge prints with metallic paint and lines with markers. Through this art activity, the children strengthened hand-eye coordination and learned how different objects interact and work to create something new.
LYFE at Prospect Heights Educational Campus
To support fine motor skills needed for writing, LYFE students explored art textures using paint and collage materials. As children squeezed tubes of paint and glue, used paint brushes, crayons, or ripped paper for collages, they improved control of the muscles in their hands.
Take a look at what happened at LYFE in April:
Week of the Young Child
The purpose of the WOYC is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize early childhood programs and services that meet those needs, recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life.
Spirit Week is all about fun and unity among LYFE families. Each day during the
week, LYFE celebrated with a special fun-filled theme.