Archive for the tag 'parenting'

Photo by Robert Fernandez

The former ball pit at Nostrand Avenue’s McDonald’s (Photo by Robert Fernandez)

Breaking news! The McDonald’s at 3540 Nostrand Avenue no longer has balls.

The fast food restaurant cleared out the ball pit recently, according to super-tipster Robert Fernandez, who sent in the photo above.

It should come as no real surprise. McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants across the nation have been getting rid of ball pits for years, largely for sanitary reasons. A former McDonald’s employee responded to a Yahoo Answers request, explaining:

The ball pits in many fast food restaurants have been removed mainly because they are extremely unsanitary … things such as food, band aids and even soiled diapers to be disposed within the ball pit. It isn’t practical for the cleaning staff at fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s to clean the ball pit various times throughout the day so those items sit in the ball pit causing bacteria to spread throughout all of the balls.

The ball pit castrations came around the same time as a headline-grabbing study in 2011 that looked at just how filthy America’s 15,000 playroom facilities were.

Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan’s analysis revealed:

Not only did we find pathogens that could make children ill, we found bacteria that were potentially deadly.

… Among my bacterial findings: Staph aureus, Pseudomonas, E. coli, Bacillus cereus and Coliforms. These can cause everything from nausea and vomiting, to skin infections, meningitis and death.

There was also quite a bit of poop on those balls.

Sure makes you look differently at that floor in the photo above, doesn’t it?

A reader submitted photo from Halloween 2011.

Trick or treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat. Just leave the poisoned candy and razor-blade apples in the pantry.

This Halloween, as all Halloweens, we should take extra precautions to be safe. While it’s the biggest, bestest holiday for the kiddos, it’s also open season for creeps, pervs, thieves and vandals. Here are a few tips we’ve cobbled together to ensure you have a safe and happy Halloween.

  • Trick-or-treaters should always have adult supervision, even if they are traveling with a group of friends.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times; be familiar with the neighborhood you plan on visiting.
  • Avoid poorly-lit areas and homes of people you do not know.
  • Avoid displaying your valuables or electronic devices.
  • Thieves will use this holiday to hide behind a mask to commit crimes.
  • Do not use your cellphones when crossing streets.
  • Place emergency identification information discreetly inside clothing of small children, in case of accidental separation.
  • Halloween treats should only be consumed if they are packaged appropriately in their original, unopened packages. Avoid homemade or unpackaged treats.
  • Avoid hallways and deserted areas that are dimly lit.
  • Do not enter a stranger’s home or car.
  •  Walk on the sidewalk and not in the street.
  • Do not wear costumes that block your view.
  • Do not wear clothing or accessories that suggest that you are affiliated with a gang.
  • Carry flashlights and wear reflective clothing at night.
  • Explain to children of all ages the difference between tricks and vandalism which could be a criminal offense.

If you feel that you are in any kind of danger, look for houses of worship, stores or places of business where you can go in case of an emergency, and where you can access help and information. Try not to be alone at any time.

As usual, one more: if you’re the parent of a teenager in Gerritsen Beach, lock up the hammers and potatoes this year.

IMG_8449

Alyssa, Larissa, and Zaim Judeh, the only premature triplets born at Coney Island Hospital, now 16.

Coney Island Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) held its second annual reunion party on October 1 to celebrate all of the preemie babies born to their top-ranked maternity ward—including the only set of triplets ever born at the hospital, now 16-years-old.

Presented with the Healthgrades Maternity Care Excellence Award for the third year in a row this past summer, Coney Island Hospital’s Level II NICU caters to babies born around 32 weeks or greater gestation and provides care for full-term newborns that need close monitoring. A baby is considered premature when it is born under 37 out of the estimated 40 full weeks of a pregnancy, according to Head Nurse and event coordinator, Kathleen Marino.

“We like to see what they look like after they’ve gone,” said Marino. “We know how hard they struggled as a little preemie infant and now they’re all big and we like to get together.”

Celebrating a milestone birthday, triplets Alyssa, Larissa, and Zaim Judeh cut their “sweet sixteen” birthday cake in the same hospital where they spent over 40 days as preemie patients, each born under three pounds.

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Chancellor Farina (Source: DOE)

The head of the New York City Department of Education, Chancellor Carmen Farina, will take questions from the public at a town hall hosted by Community Education Council District 21 tonight.

The local advisory council is urging neighbors and parents to attend the meeting, where parents can bring up issues and ask questions about the city’s educational policies directly with Farina. Speaking time is limited to two minutes per speaker, and must sign-up to speak before the meeting begins. Interpretation services will be available.

The council is also holding a high school admission workshop tonight, featuring an expert who will guide parents through the process, and give tips on things to look for when considering a school for your child.

Community Education Councils are advisory bodies that replaced school boards. They help guide policies at local schools, and serve as advocates for their district’s needs to the larger government. District 21 includes schools throughout Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Gravesend and parts of Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst. You can see a full list here.

The high school workshop begins at 5pm. The town hall with Chancellor Farina begins at 6pm. The regularly scheduled meeting begins at 7pm.

The meeting will be held at I.S. 226 Alfred D. Be Mason, 6006 23rd Avenue.

Source: audio-luci/Flickr

This is a paid announcement from Coney Island Hospital (2601 Ocean Parkway) and the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation:

As parents and kids across New York City get ready for the new school year, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) reminds New Yorkers to follow 10 tips for “back to school” health and to visit any HHC primary care center or child health clinic in the community to receive needed physicals, immunizations and other wellness support available at little or no cost.

Back to School Reminders_V3.6“Each new school year is a good reminder to parents to make sure their kids are up to date with immunizations and yearly health exams,” Warren Seigel, MD, Chairman of Pediatrics, HHC Coney Island Hospital. “If a child’s health is compromised, chances are it will impact their ability to succeed in school.”

HHC offers parents 10 health tips to help kids get ready for a new school year:

  1. Annual Physicals: Yearly physicals are important to ensure children are growing and developing properly. Physicals should start at birth and continue into early adulthood.
  2. Vision and Hearing Tests: Children should have their hearing tested before starting school, and vision exams starting at 6 months of age. Parents should watch for signs of hearing or vision loss and consult their child’s pediatrician right away for testing.
  3. Flu Shots: Flu vaccination is recommended every year for everyone over 6 months of age. The flu is dangerous to children and sometimes results in death.
  4. Childhood Vaccinations: Vaccines are necessary to help protect children and others against disease, and often required for children to attend school. Common immunizations for school-aged children could include meningitis, Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis), measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, and HPV. Talk to your pediatrician to determine which immunizations your child needs and how often. Visit the NYC Department of Education for a full list of immunization requirements.
  5. Nutrition: It’s important to help kids make healthy food choices that include five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and limit added sugars found in candy and juices. Starting the day with a good breakfast may help kids focus better in school and be more productive.
  6. Sleep: Adequate sleep helps keep kids focused each day at school. Preschoolers typically require 11-13 hours each night and children aged 5 to 12 need about 10-11 hours of sleep. To keep a consistent sleep schedule kids should sleep in the same room each night and TV should stay out of the bedroom.
  7. Routines: Consistent routines help keep children alert and productive during the school year. Afterschool routines should consist of a healthy snack before homework, at least an hour of physical activity, no more than two hours of TV or video games, and at least eight hours of sleep each night.
  8. Physical Activity: Parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of activities each day to keep them active. It’s recommended that kids get 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to maintain a healthy weight.
  9. Street Smarts: Kids need to be reminded about pedestrian safety. Review the importance of stop, look and listen when crossing the street, being alert and not distracted while walking, and always make sure children are accompanied by an adult walking to and from school.
  10. Limited Screen Time: It’s easy for kids to go overboard with the amount of time spent in front of TV, computers, and video games. Parents should monitor the amount of time kids spend in front of the screen and limit it to no more than two hours each day.

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about your child’s health or immunization status. To locate health services near you visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.

The above is a paid announcement by Coney Island Hospital and the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

The following is a paid announcement from the MBBC / Nash Jew After School Program (330 Neptune Avenue, 3rd Floor):

after-school

It’s back to school season and once again homework, studying and the daily routine begins. Let MBBC/Nash Jew after school make it easier for you. We offer one-on-one help with each student, as well as provide hot lunch and transportation. Our after school program goes beyond the classroom, and we also offer dance, art, karate, chess, music and vocal classes. We are located at 330 Neptune Avenue. Registering with us will help you make the school year an easier and more enjoyable experience for your child!

We now have a wide range of all-new programs, many available through MBBC/Nash Jew After School for the first time this year. Our programs include:

  • Yoga classes for all ages, including adults
  • Music and vocal programs
  • Judo, sambo and MMA
  • Tutoring and test preparation
  • Sunday school

MBBC offers it all in one place and at exceptional rates.

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what one parent had to say about their experience:

MBBC/Nash Jew After School is great in all aspects. My daughter has been attending MBBC’s after school program for three years. Besides completing all of her homework in the program, she enjoys personalized attention from teachers and counselors. Every person working in the program greets us with a smile and positive attitude. Every day, they provide kids with different activities: gymnastics, dancing, chess, arts, and after, she can stay for additional training in a program she enjoys most. For my daughter, it’s dancing and gymnastics. All instruction is available in both English and Russian, which allows my daughter to learn Russian language and use it more. Any time I had a problem picking my daughter up, transportation was available. If she felt sick, I was called immediately. I will definitely use MBBC for years to come and recommend it to everyone.

– Natalie Chernikova – mother of Nastya Berard, student

Our programs are designed for students in pre-kindergarten to middle school, and is certified by the New York State Department of Family and Children Services.

WE’RE HIRING: MBBC/Nash Jew After School is seeking candidates for the following positions: after-school teachers (certified, or certificate pending); karate, judo and sambo instructors; yoga instructors. Please e-mail a resume to: mbbcschool@gmail.com.

Call (718) 891-1111 or visit our website to sign up now!

The above is a paid announcement by MBBC/Nash Jew After School Program. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

school classroom by Dan Nguyen

A new, more inclusionary approach to educate NYC students with special needs is proving easier said than done, says a new report by Chalkbeat. The organization spoke to students, parents, and school officials and found that schools are struggling to implement mandatory reforms to special education, while its effect on students is still unproven.

Integrating special needs students by enrolling them in general education classes, mixed classes (including typical and special needs students), or a combination of the two, was an idea first publicly introduced in 2003 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The proposal was launched as a pilot at a limited number of city schools in 2010, and launched citywide in 2012. Chalkbeat, though, found that some schools lacked the resources and the scramble to implementation is leaving some of the neediest students behind.

Students affected by this Special Education Reform and interviewed by Chalkbeat each had unique experiences, some positive, some not. They include Joseph, a middle schooler with ADHD who was placed in mixed classes as per the city’s new policies, and for whom no purely special education classes were available when attempts to mainstream proved unsuccessful; Noah, whose mother Britt Sady pushed for his inclusion in a general education class so as to set higher standards for his learning and increase his chances of graduation; Christon Solomon, a middle schooler who says small learning sessions in special education classes work better for him than general education; and Thomas, who was suspended often in special education classes, but is doing better since being introduced to mainstream and mixed classes.

The experiences of parents and kids profiled are diverse, as are the abilities of the schools discussed to see that students’ needs are met–often, says Chalkbeat, schools simply aren’t provided with adequate staffing or financial resources to abide by the 2012 reforms. This is the case with Joseph–whose transfer to another school was finally approved only near the end of the school year, and presumably because his mother Clara, who works for the Department of Education, came armed with a certain amount of knowledge regarding red tape.

“Sometimes, if the parent doesn’t question [a school's inadequate handling of a special needs child's education], it just goes under the radar,” family advocate Olga Vazquez, of mental illness and developmental disability service support agency ICL, told the publication.

Certain schools are benefitting from reforms more than others. The article says funding is disproportionately doled out to schools with integrated classrooms instead of simply general and special education ones, and parents of both typical and special needs students at Harlem’s P.S. 112, for example, have requested mixed classes to enhance their kids’ educational experiences.

However the jury is still out, quantitatively speaking, on the effectiveness of integrating kids of different abilities into the same classrooms. Chalkbeat says some test scores have increased marginally, but others have not. What does appear to be clear is a widening discrepancy in disciplinary action being handed down to special needs students in mainstream classrooms, but DOE Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi says Chancellor Carmen Fariña has no plans to overhaul the 2012 reforms.

If you’re an New York City educator or parent, what’s your take on the matter? Have you run into any of the problems stated in Chalkbeat’s article, or seen students improve under new policies? Should properly run mixed classrooms benefit all students–and what would running them properly entail of schools, teachers, and the DOE? How would funding and resources be distributed if you had it your way?

Photo by Dan Nguyen

Source: NYC Parks Department

In their battle against weeds and vermin, the New York City Parks Department is using a common pesticide that a new study suggests is associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and breast cancer.

The new concerns arise out of a study published in April by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that found that the commercially available pesticide Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is associated with lymphoma. A report this morning in DNAinfo found that the city has sprayed Roundup in public greenspaces more than 1,300 times last year alone.

The outlet reports:

The Parks Department sprays the pesticide, called Roundup, to kill weeds that harbor rats on “little-used” areas near playgrounds, officials said. The city posts warning signs for 24 hours before and after spraying.

“In order to keep rats out of the playgrounds and meadow areas, we must use Roundup,” Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said. “It is not used inside playgrounds but is often used on little-used slopes outside playgrounds precisely because overgrown weeds near playgrounds harbor rats.”

The city defended its use of Roundup, which was sprayed in public parks 1,365 times in 2013. That was a 22 percent increase from the previous year as officials phased out other weed-killing chemicals that were deemed more toxic, according to a Health Department report.

The agency would not tell the outlet which parks had been sprayed, or how often.

The outlet also noted a study published last year suggesting that glyphosate effects hormones linked to breast cancer.

While extreme critics say the city should stop using pesticides in parks altogether, some say it’s sufficient to leave signs up for 72 hours after spraying, not 24. However, the city cites statistics from the manufacturer, Monsanto, that claim the product becomes harmless after 24 hours. The agency also insists that pesticides are not sprayed in commonly used areas, but only along overgrown, out-of-the-way sections.

As for Monsanto, they’re dismissing the study’s conclusion.

“Comprehensive toxicological studies repeated over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated that glyphosate…does not cause cancer, mutagenic effects, nervous system effects, immune system effects, endocrine disruption, birth defects or reproductive problems,” company spokeswoman Charla Lord told DNAinfo.

Although it appears the city will continue to use pesticides in playgrounds, the state has banned pesticides from use in other child-friendly areas.

In 2010, Governor Paterson signed the Child Safe Playing Field Act, which prohibits schools and day care centers from applying pesticides to any playground, turf or athletic playing field out of concern for children’s health.

According to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, HealthGuidance:

Potential harm from pesticides is especially important to consider in schools and day care centers because children are at greater risk from chemical exposure. Children are not little adults – from infants to teens, they are growing and developing. Their bodies have not yet reached developmental maturity. This means that they are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of many pesticides and other chemicals. Behaviors of young children, such as putting things in their mouths and crawling on the floor, put them at additional risk from pesticide exposure.

Source: flickrized/Flickr

Is your kid the next Roger Federer or Anna Kournikova? They could be, and now there are free programs at local schools to help them get there.

The New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) organization launched their free community tennis summer programs for kids earlier this month, and registration continues to be open.

The program provides free use of tennis racquets, qualified instructors and lessons to kids ages 5 to 18. Participants will learn the basics of tennis strokes and how to rally, and then be put to the test in competition with others of similar skill levels.

The summer season kicked off July 7, but there are no deadlines to register and no wait lists to slog through. Registration is done on-site, and parents or guardians must accompany the child during the registration process. It’s a six to eight week program which runs three to six hours a day, five days a week – although schedules vary from site to site.

Locally, kids can sign up and begin playing at the following area schools during the days and times indicated:

  • Andries Hudde Junior High School Playground2500 Nostrand Avenue – Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Site director: Bob Spigner
  • P.S. 238 – 1633 East 8th Street - Wednesday and Thursday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. – Site director: Colin Clarke
  • P.S. 229 – 1400 Benson Avenue - Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. - Site director: Colin Clarke
  • McDonald ParkMcDonald Avenue at Avenue S – Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Site director: Gennady Shuminov

More information can be found here. The full list of sites citywide can be found here.

Source: Gregory Maizous

Source: Gregory Maizous

Coney Island Hospital (2601 Ocean Parkway) nabbed Healthgrades 2014 Maternity Care Excellence Award, marking the third consecutive year it has been recongized as one of the best hospitals for mothers and their offspring during and after childbirth.

Healthgrades is an organization that evaluates and ranks healthcare services at hospitals across the nation. The rankings for maternity care are based on an analysis of complications due to vaginal deliveries and C-sections, newborn mortality rates and percentage of newborns with low birth weight.

The Maternity Care Excellence Award is given to the top 10 percent of best performing hospitals for services to mothers and for the care of their newborn babies. According to Healthgrades, patients treated at Coney Island Hospital had a 54.4 percent lower risk of complications during natural delivery, and a 77.6 percent lower risk during C-section deliveries than those treated at low-ranking hospitals. It won the same recognition in 2012 and 2013.

“We are extremely proud to receive this distinction for the third year in a row which shows our consistency of providing high-quality care for women in Brooklyn during their pregnancy and childbirth, and the care of their newborn babies,” said Arthur Wagner, Coney Island Hospital’s executive direct, in a press release.

The hospital operates a dedicated Women’s Health Center, basically a one-stop shop for in- and out-patient needs, including labor and delivery, general obstetric and gynecological care, family planing and more.

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