Are you raising a child in Staten Island with autism, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, developmental disabilities, down syndrome or anyone differently abled in any way? The Staten Island Special Needs Guide contains information, resources, doctors, psychologists, therapists, other professionals for parents of children with special needs.[more...]
The Staten Island Children’s Museum (SICM) is finally back! After closing down due to the coronavirus pandemic last year, the Snug Harbor children’s locale plans to reopen its doors on weekends starting Saturday, April 10. New safety precautions, advance online ticketing, changes to the way guests explore the building, and new activities in the exhibits will all be implemented. The staff has been outfitting the museum to respond to COVID-19 guidelines with new infrastructure such as air filters, touchless sinks and toilets in the 2nd floor bathrooms, and water fountains with touchless water bottle filling stations. Other new precautions and procedures include dozens of sanitation gel dispensers throughout the building, one way traffic flow on stairs, and a protective plastic divider at the front desk. “We are really so happy to be ramping up to opening. We have been installing new components to our exhibits including an activity that reveals secrets about airflow, a large scale Kerplunk game, and a slide in House About It. We’ve also been booking outdoor performances and demonstrations for art and science programming,” said Dina Rosenthal, Executive Director of SICM. To ensure appropriate social distancing, SICM will limit the number of guests visiting each day and strongly suggest visitors, including members, book tickets online in advance if possible. All staff and visitors over 2 years old will be required to wear masks. Advance tickets through May 16 are available online at sichildrensmuseum.org/tickets. Admission is $8 per person and children under 1 year of age are free. On Saturdays and Sundays, SICM will offer two sessions for two hours each: the first at 10:00 am and the second at 1:00 pm. Between the sessions, the staff plans to conduct a thorough cleaning of the exhibits and common areas. For more information, visit sichildrensmuseum.org, call 718-273-2060 ext. 150 or email [email protected] Wanna read more stuff like this? Get our newsletters packed with ideas, events, and information for parents in Staten Island.[more...]
Now more than ever, kids need the close bonds formed at camp. Summer camp is a place for kids to have fun and practice independence—but it’s also a unique opportunity for them to form deep, long-lasting friendships. The friends that kids make in camp—whether it’s day camp or sleepaway—often last years, even decades. In a survey of more than 5,000 families around the U.S., 69 percent of families said their camper was still in contact with the kids they met at camp. That’s why during this period of social isolation brought on by the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for kids to experience the kinds of friendships made at summer camp. Making Friends at Summer Camp Camp, as it turns out, is uniquely suited to provide all the very best ingredients for forming friendships: An escape from routine, shared activities, and exposure to new things—all happening under the watchful eye of well-trained role models. Here are a few reasons why those camp friendships form—and last—so powerfully. Campers share their successes. After a year of remote or hybrid school, kids are craving the opportunity to share an immediate and intimate experience with others their own age—which is exactly what happens at camp. Whether it’s a soccer match or an obstacle course—or at the Greek mythology-based Camp Half-Blood, potion-making and stealth games—campers achieve small successes together. This comradery leads to meaningful bonds. Campers interact with each other—not screens. Without screens, campers are forced to makes face-to-face contact (something that’s been in short supply lately). They can also have conversations without being distracted by a phone or other device; and they don’t have to worry about their social media profiles or “likes”—which makes every interaction more genuine and affirming. With the pressures of the outside world removed, what remains is a common routine and activities grounded in the present. Campers share interests and experience. Kids with unique interests or talents can bond over their shared passions. At Camp Half-Blood, when kids choose their “hometown” group (Athens, Mycenae, Sparta, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Thebes), like-minded demigods will gravitate to the same group, so the campers who chose Sparta share a love of sword-fighting and epic battles, while those who picked Athens enjoy strategy and trivia. Being with others who have the same interests can prevent kids from feeling isolated. It also makes “breaking the ice” a little easier when meeting new people. Counselors inspire connections. In addition to being a role model, a camp counselor’s job is to help kids form friendships. Many counselors, like those at Camp Half-Blood, have been campers themselves and have made friends through the experience—a process that they want to inspire in their campers. Also, counselors are trained to empower kids to feel comfortable contributing to the group. This leads a child to feel valued and confident, making it easier for her to find friends. Campers can be themselves. “Camp allows children to reinvent themselves and be who they want to be in a positive, supportive environment,” Jess Michaels, the communications director for the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey, says. The shy child may become the outgoing child, and the child who may be not intro sports at home might be athletic at camp. At Camp Half-Blood, campers gain the tools (from the fields of theater, fine arts, debate, imaginative inquiry, STEM—and of course, the fields of battle) to tell their own stories. Also kids at Camp Half-Blood get to choose their parent-god—their bandanna represents their choice: orange for Athena, yellow for Apollo, etc. And they get to choose their own electives. It’s an environment that encourages kids to figure out who they are and open themselves up—which leads to more honest relationships. Sharing tradition leads to closeness. Campers often connect over the themes and rituals that camp offers—whether that’s campfire songs or at Camp Half-Blood, the Olympics, when campers compete in sword-fighting, trivia, narrative art, and a foot race. These customs can keep campers in close contact after camp and returning year after year. Diversity creates social awareness. For some kids, camp may be their first time meeting people outside of their neighborhood or school. For others, it might be their first time meeting kids like themselves. Either way, kids will learn to interact with people of different backgrounds, practice asking questions and figuring out appropriate self-disclosure. They’ll also learn respect for others. Campers will share memories. What happens at camp tends to stick with kids for a long time. That might be sneaking out of their cabins or winning a game of tennis. At Camp Half-Blood, it might be a few epic rounds of Mythomagic (a tabletop role-playing game similar to Dungeons & Dragons)—or simply a meaningful conversation with a like-minded peer. These memories bind kids and lead to long-lasting friendships. Sending your child to camp might be a difficult decision this year. There are potential health concerns and changes in protocols. On the other hand, it’s been a difficult year for kids and camp is probably exactly what they need, especially when it comes to connecting with others and making real friends.[more...]
Summer camp has many benefits for kids. They gain independence, form friendships, and learn new skills. And although it may not be obvious, camp helps prepare kids for college and beyond. Day camps, as well as sleepaway camps, introduce kids to a world without their parents — one which is nurturing yet challenging, and one which gives kids the skills and psychological advantages that will help them thrive after they leave home. Campers learn to adapt Campers have no control over who is in their bunk, or if their friends will return the following summer. Each year, they must find a way to accept their assignments and adapt to new situations. This experience is mirrored in college when students must figure out how to navigate a new world. And it turns out that kids who went to camp are much better prepared when these challenges arise in college. Campers gain confidence Unlike many schools, camps like Staten Island Academy Day Camp create a judgment-free community. Campers are encouraged to explore new activities and counselors are trained to help campers keep trying until they succeed. This instills a confidence in kids that carries over into the rest of their lives. A young person who feels good about themself is less likely to make poor choices because they feel a sense of accomplishment in rising to the developmental challenges that face them. This will stay with them throughout their school years and beyond. Campers become resilient The first week of camp is full of unknowns: Who are these counselors? What are these traditions? Where do I go? Who will be my friends? Will I be successful? Similar questions and challenges will arise in college as well. At Staten Island Academy Day Camp, kids are encouraged to confront and overcome this uncertainty—whether it’s in an enrichment camp like Engineering Using Legos or the Talented and Gifted Program. This resiliency will make the next uncertainty easier to handle. Campers embrace and learn from diversity Camp not only introduces kids to people who are different from them, it also celebrates those differences. At Staten Island Academy Day Camp, kids learn that diversity widens their comfort zones and broadens their minds. Also, because the staff is so inclusive, kids tend to become fast friends, which will make that first day of college freshman orientation a lot easier and more familiar. Campers gain a strong sense of self There are kids who will jump at the chance to be in the annual camp show and others who shy away from the spotlight. There are athletes, artists, intellects, comedians—and they all attend Staten Island Academy Day Camp, where all campers are encouraged to discover who they really are and are praised and rewarded for that process. These kids will take that strong sense of self with them—back to school and onwards to college. Campers practice being away from home Camp helps kids adjust to being away from home by giving them practice being away from home. Campers, often as young as kindergarten or first grade, get to experience being separated from their parents while still being nurtured and cared for. Homesickness, even at day camp, is natural, and getting through that discomfort with the help of a counselor or friend is an empowering experience for a child of any age. When homesickness happens at college, campers will know there’s always someone to help—whether it’s a roommate, friend, professor, or advisor. It can be a tough decision to send your child to summer camp—especially during the uncertainties of the pandemic. But camp will not only provide a fun and enriching experience, it will also help kids become more equipped to deal with the challenges ahead of them.[more...]
By David Mostafavi, M.D. Chief of Ophthalmology at RUMC Richmond University Medical Center March is “Save Your Vision” month, which makes it a perfect time to talk about how we can protect our eyes. After all, they are the window to our soul and the lens to our world—and we should be doing everything we can do to preserve them. From birth through adulthood, vision is never something we can take for granted. That is why we spoke to Dr. David Mostafavi, Chair of Ophthalmology at Staten Island’s Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC), about tips for optimum eye health and what to expect as we age. Vision Health in Babies and Kids Unfortunately babies cannot articulate vision issues and little kids are only partially reliable when it comes to reporting eye problems. That is why ophthalmologists at RUMC usually rely on a pediatrician or a parent to give them a heads-up if something does not seem right. As Dr. Mostafavi said, “parents are usually the first people to notice: ‘Hey, my kid’s not really focusing very well,’ or, ‘the eye is out sometimes’ or ‘the eye is in.’” The most common early sight disorder for kids is amblyopia, in which the brain favors one eye over the other. “When you’re born, your two eyes are competing for real estate in your brain,” Dr. Mostafavi explained. “When one eye sees better than the other, the brain just says, ‘I’m going to give more brain cells to the other eye because this eye is kind of wasting my time here.’” It is important that amblyopia is caught early, ideally before a child turns seven or eight. “If one eye is seeing better than the other eye, and if it’s not corrected at a young age, then the brain has already settled. It’s already divvied up the cells between the two eyes,” Dr. Mostafavi explained. Once diagnosed, ophthalmologists at RUMC can use a patch or eye drops to cover or weaken the good eye until the other one catches up with it. Surgery can also correct the problem. “We tighten or loosen the muscles of the eye to straighten the eyes out and make the eye function better—so the brain can recognize it,” Dr. Mostafavi said. Whether it is amblyopia or simply a refractive problem—in which case your child needs glasses, Dr. Mostafavi urges parents to err on the side of safety and make an appointment at RUMC. “We’d rather have parents be overly cautious than not—because worst-case scenario, they come in and say, ‘oh, everything’s fine’—as opposed to not doing that.” When kids are old enough, the heads-up usually comes from either their pediatrician’s office or school. (Some preschools and all public schools in New York City offer an annual eye exam beginning in first grade.) “We get a lot of consults from school where the kid has no complaints, zero complaints, but failed the vision test at school,” Dr. Mostafavi said. Vision Health in Teenagers Although everyone seems to be online more than ever these days, teenagers often have the most prolonged screen-time—which can be a problem for their eyes. “A teenager who’s looking at a computer screen for 8-10 hours a day—the muscles in his eyes are constantly in a state of accommodation or contraction whether they realize it or not. Those muscles get pretty worn out and tired,” Dr. Mostafavi said. While heavy computer use is not linked to permanent eye damage, hours of screen time can result in short-term eyestrain and loss of focus—and could be a risk factor for myopia, according to Dr. Mostafavi. He recommends teenagers take frequent breaks from the screen, even if that just means closing their eyes or looking in the distance. “That will actually relax the muscles and give them a little bit of a quick break. Then they can go back to whatever they’re doing up close.” Many experts recommend the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, focus on something besides your device for 20 seconds, 20 feet into the distance. The majority of vision problems at this age are anatomical or genetic—so there is not much a teen can do to cause or prevent them. (Conditions like glaucoma and cataracts don’t usually occur at this age.) Parents should be on the lookout for squinting, but if a teen is not seeing well, their school (or even a driver’s license test) will often flag it. In fact, Dr. Mostafavi says schools in New York tend to be overly cautious. “They over-call things, which is good. That’s what you want.” Glasses or contact lenses can usually solve the issue, but teens are rarely good candidates for LASIK or laser surgery. “We like to say that if there’s really no refractive change within a three-to-four-year period, and the eye is stabilized in terms of its prescription, then we can offer someone LASIK,” Dr. Mostafavi said. “At least 18 years old, but ideally 21 years old is the threshold.” Vision Health in Adults and Seniors In general, adults should eat well, not smoke and avoid excessive UV light to help prevent an ocular condition called macular degeneration, which is one of the leading causes of vision loss in seniors. Adults between the ages of 20 and 40 should be checked by an ophthalmologist, preferably every 5 to 10 years—even if they have no issues or pain. According to Dr. Mostafavi, 40 is the magic age—when most adults start needing glasses and should have a comprehensive eye exam every two to four years. This is when presbyopia, a weakening of the eye muscles, develops and causes blurry vision at near distances. “This phenomenon can literally happen overnight and be distressing to people; however, it’s a normal part of aging,” Dr. Mostafavi says. “Around age 55 is when adults should really be more vigilant about eye exams and should be seen every one to three years,” Dr. Mostafavi said, because there is a greater risk for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy. According [more…][more...]
Staten Island’s Incredible Kids Awards recognizes and honors outstanding children in the community. Each month, we ask Staten Islanders to nominate kids who’ve made a difference in their community or in the lives of others. The honorees and their impressive achievements will be recognized in Staten Island Parent and on siparent.com, and will receive a $150 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Staten Island University Hospital. Scroll down and click the button at the bottom of the page to enter or vote for the child you feel deserves to be honored in Staten Island’s Incredible Kids Awards. Meet April’s Featured Pediatric Specialist Dr. Dolly Sharma, director of pediatric infectious diseases, is a board-certified specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of children’s diseases caused by bacteria, fungus, parasites, and other infectious agents. She has treated a wide variety of infections, including meningitis, Lyme disease, skin infections, diarrheal illnesses, complicated pneumonia, and bone and joint infections. Dr. Dolly Sharma Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Click the button above to enter or vote for a child in Staten Island’s Incredible Kids Awards! Nomination Period: April 1 – April 15 Voting Period: April 16– April 30 New Contest Begins on or around May 2 Meet Staten Island’s Incredible Kids Meet the September Incredible Kid of the Month, Caylee Pecorato! Meet the October Incredible Kid of the Month, Angelina Palmer! Meet the November Incredible Kids of the Month, Amina & Ariana Cross! Meet the December Incredible Kid of the Month, Julianna DiLeo! Meet the January Incredible Kid of the Month, Elena Borrero! Meet the February Incredible Kid of the Month, James Fauci![more...]
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