Author: Ayana Harry, Pix11 News
NEW YORK CITY — Since 2006, the Garden of Dreams Foundation has supported local New York City charities and provided life changing opportunities for young people.
The foundation’s latest effort is a $1 million fund to support local nonprofits struggling during the pandemic.
New York Knicks Legend and Garden of Dreams board member John Starks explained the foundation’s “mission statement is stand up to really help children, as well as young adults, go on these times right here.”
For the Harlem Dowling West Side Center, a grant from Garden of Dreams COVID-19 fund was a lifeline. For over 100 years the nonprofit has supported and uplifted children and families by running after-school programs and a food pantry.
“We went from, maybe you know two to three families monthly that required emergency assistance, to now 100 to 150 families,” explained Executive Director Karen Dixon.
Funding from Garden of Dreams enabled the Harlem Dowling West Side Center to expand their food pantry and pay for $100 gift cards for 100 families.
Garden of Dreams provided financial assistance to 26 of their partner organizations.
A HOME FOR HARLEM DOWLING
The Home for Harlem Dowling project is complete.
Harlem Dowling-West Side Center now as a permanent home in the Central Harlem community. The Home for Harlem Dowling project has 60 units of affordable housing building on the northeast corner of 127th Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. The building also includes 12 studio apartments young adults.
Adalyn and Emely, along with their team competed in the Lego League Competition for robotics. Two years ago, the students in the Harlem CREATE After School Program began participating in robotics classes learning to build and program robots. For some of the children, it was their first robotics class and they were determined to learn. On January 11, 2020, the students traveled to Aviation High School for their first competition. They competed against more than 25 teams in three areas. The first part of the competition was a verbal presentation where the team presented their Innovation Project which was a “Flying Smoke Detector”. Our children did an amazing job, each presenting their section while also translating for one of their peers who spoke Spanish. The other parts of the competition were Core Values and Robot Design. Finally, the moment we all waited for, the results were in. Our team received a Silver Ticket, next step Round 2 – City Shaper qualifying event. Emely said “My experience has been good because I worked with a partner and my team to complete the missions.”
The following are the quotes for the team members that are here today:
Guillermo – ” My experience has been good. We have learned different type of things. I love coding.”
Xaiden – “We learn how to build robots and we won our first competition. I’m proud of that.”
Johan – “My experience with robotics is great because I learned how to code and I am happy that we won the first competition.”
Dherwin – “My experience has been good with robotics because we built structures that we could code and made them do missions.”
Jennifer – “Me experience has been good. It is fun to build robots and work together with partners.”
Students began their day with introductions and some free play in the horse ring with the outdoor education specialist. He later led them in a movement and mindfulness visualization in which they had an opportunity to imagine what it might feel like to be a horse for the day. Students were then divided into three groups and rotated between three different stations focused on natural horsemanship, grooming and an obstacle course. In between stations they got to play, feed the goats and learn about sustainability and our future project converting horse manure to heat and electricity.
At the grooming station, each child had a pampering session with a pony named Belle. As the children took turns brushing Belle’s coat, one of the EquiShui staff gave them lessons on horse anatomy and how they could better connect to and take care of Belle and by extension themselves and others.
At the natural horsemanship station, each child worked with an international equestrian trainer and another pony, Hunter to learn how to communicate and connect with the ponies. During the sessions, each child had an opportunity to learn and apply non-verbal communication skills as a means of building a relationship with Hunter in order to earn trust and respect. These same skills can then be utilized with their parents, friends and in all other human relationships.
At the obstacle course station, an equestrian expert supported each child as they led Piper (another pony) through an obstacle course that included walking a maze and making figure 8s through a narrow pathway. For this activity, the children had to practice mindful attention, becoming aware of their surroundings, and the present moment.
The day ended with an arts session in which the children got to paint and decorate their pictures with the ponies.