In February we have much to celebrate – from Black History Month to the Lunar New Year, and, of course, Valentine’s Day this week.
In the spirit of celebrations, my favorite experience is to see the expressions of pure joy on our pre-K children - laughing and learning through the arts. Thanks to funding from the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, our Early Childhood Education program serves more than 600 girls and boys, ages 2-5, in seven centers in Brooklyn and Queens.
To ensure that 100% of our pre-K children are ready for Kindergarten, we offer a curriculum that is not only steeped in literacy activities, but also infused with music, dance and even yoga. Our teachers bring in different instruments every day – from drums to guitars – and our children have a grand time singing along and dancing. What they don’t realize is that these songs are infused with the center’s “Word of the Month” that our children are learning to incorporate in their everyday vocabulary. This is in addition to classroom lessons and reading books that we recommend to their families.
Last year, we introduced yoga lessons among PAL’s youngest. While our kids are having fun stretching and balancing, they are also learning the names of different body parts. Yoga also helps our children to improve their gross motor skills and learn mindfulness.
At the other end of the PAL spectrum, our teens are keeping busy this month as well. To celebrate Black History Month, about 70 PAL teens and staff are visiting SUNY Purchase College to watch the Purchase Symphony and Jazz Orchestra Concert that will include an excerpt of William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony.
This week, we are also celebrating the culmination of the songwriting project with our program partner, Decoda, where 12 NYPD officers and 12 PAL teens worked together to create original songs. Like last year, the project will culminate with the officers and PAL teens performing their songs at Carnegie Hall. This program – like all others - is possible because of support like yours. As our thanks, we are offering free tickets for the preview performance at PAL Harlem Center on Thursday, February 14th. Please email April Okpwae at AOkpwae@palnyc.org for the free tickets to this amazing event.
As I mentioned last month, 2019 is looking very promising for our young people. We thank you for your generosity – you help make this all possible.
Frederick J. Watts
Executive Director, PAL