In New York City, well over 14,000 children sleep in shelters every night and every day over 600,000 children go hungry because they live in households in which parents must regularly choose between paying the rent and buying food.
Last year, almost 70,000 children were reported victims of child abuse or neglect. Each and every day, hunger, homelessness, physical and emotional abuse, abandonment, neglect, substance abuse, substandard housing, failing schools and disease endanger children’s welfare and undermine their future.
The Association to Benefit Children (ABC) creates model programs that are easily replicable, compassionate, comprehensive, cost-effective and sustainable. Their focus is on early childhood education programs. There are five early education programs across the New York area. I volunteer at Cassidy’s Place 120 preschoolers who live in poverty and suffer from severe disabilities, serious medical problems and have significant special needs develop, play and learn in nine dynamic and inviting classrooms.
Children, who might otherwise be unable to attend school, enjoy an enriched curriculum and the special therapies that help them achieve their highest potential.
Working with the children at Cassidy’s Place has given me a first-hand example of the value of an education. I am amazed to see the transformation in all the children from the beginning of the year until now. Children who would not say a single word, now will not cease to tell me stories about their day, their friends, and their family. Children who would throw tantrums and not sleep during naptime unless they could sleep on my lap, now sleep completely on their own and use their words when they are upset. Children who although started off the year refusing to participate in group activities or make eye contact with me are now some of the most active members of the classroom.