November 15, 2003
New York City Celebrates Second Annual “Day of the Child”
Toys “R” Us Times Square Hosts Mentoring Event for Children in ACS Foster Care, Child Care and Head Start Programs
New York City celebrated its second “Day of the Child” today at Toys “R” Us Times Square, where approximately 500 children and 250 adults who are interested in learning about mentoring came together for the City's annual event to recruit mentors for children in foster care.
The Day of the Child brought caring New Yorkers together with children involved with the Administration for Children's Services' (ACS) foster care, child care and Head Start programs. Adult volunteers were matched for the morning with these children to enjoy musical performances, games, face painting and interactive activities. In addition, adults had the opportunity to learn more about making a difference in the life of a child through mentoring.
“Since New York City 's inaugural Day of the Child celebration last year, ACS has continued to expand its efforts to recruit mentors for children in foster care,” said ACS Commissioner William C. Bell. “Together with Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, The Mentoring Partnership of New York and Mentoring USA, we have collectively secured approximately 620 mentors for children in foster care throughout New York City , and this number is growing. Mentors serve as role models and can help youth develop crucial life skills that better enable them to be happy, healthy and productive members of the world that they live in.”
Live musical performances were given by neo-soul artist Angie Stone and recording artist Wyclef Jean, who performed a song he wrote called, “The Next Generation,” which was inspired by foster children. Leaders from the community and the entertainment industry, including Olympic gold medalist and co-host of NBA Inside Stuff Summer Sanders and pop singer Tweet, made guest appearances.
The New York City Day of the Child is hosted by ACS, in conjunction with founding partners Los Angeles-based not-for-profit organization Children Uniting Nations (CUN), the New York Daily News and founding sponsor American Express, and this year's new partners Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, The Mentoring Partnership of New York and Mentoring USA. Toys “R” Us hosted this year's event by providing the space, activities and gift cards for participating children.
“Our foster children are the most vulnerable children in our communities,” said CUN founder Daphna Edwards Ziman. “They are removed from their homes and families for no fault of their own, usually because of abuse or neglect. It is our responsibility to embrace these children, and
guide them into a world of hope. A mentor can change a child's life forever from feeling estranged to feeling welcomed into our community. Children Uniting Nations is committed to reach out and help every child in need.”
Research has shown that young people with mentors are more likely to have greater self-esteem and feel hopeful about their future than their peers who do not have mentors. As a result, these children are less likely to use illegal drugs and alcohol or skip school, and are more likely to enroll in college and give back to the community by getting involved in community service.
"The Daily News is committed to supporting youth in foster care," said Les Goodstein, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Daily News . "The Day of the Child program is a great opportunity for people to get involved and make a difference in children's lives. As New Yorkers, it is our responsibility to see to it that children get all the love and attention they need and deserve."
The Daily News and WB11 helped to recruit adult volunteers. New Yorkers For Children, the nonprofit organization that raises funds to support children in New York City 's foster care system, provided matching funds for the Toys “R” Us gift cards and other support to help make the event possible. Each child was given a gift bag, including the gift card, school supplies donated by Staples and "Snackers" from Smucker's. In addition, Dunkin' Donuts donated coffee for the adults in attendance.
“NYC Marketing is proud to be a part of this great event,” said New York City Chief Marketing Officer Joseph Perello, who was instrumental in developing the partnership with Toys “R” Us. “The Day of the Child illustrates the great benefits that City agencies enjoy when they are supported by corporate partners that truly care about New York City .”
In its second year in New York City , the first Day of the Child celebration was held by Children Uniting Nations in the City of Los Angeles five years ago. Since the launch of this successful event, Los Angeles has been able to greatly expand its mentoring program for children in foster care and bring awareness to the challenges children in foster care face.
To learn more about mentoring a child in foster care in New York City, visit www.nyc.gov or call 311.