Tags Posts tagged with "children"


Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

When our children were young, a friend recently told me, she viewed the parents of people she met through a binary process.

A mom of two boys, she figured she had a better chance, at least in the first 10 years or so of her sons’ lives, of interacting with the parents of other boys. When she met girls and their families, she was polite and friendly, without putting too much effort into getting to know them.

Fast forward almost two decades, and her children, like mine, are out of the house. She and her husband have an adorable small dog that they dote on, transferring their abundant parenting attention to a canine companion.

Nowadays, my friend said, she sees people through a similar lens. She takes her small dog to a dog park, where a fence separates pets under 40 pounds from the bigger, heavier versions. When she meets someone outside the park with a dog, she’s more likely to pay attention to their names and their stories if they have a small dog.

As I considered what she said about the parents of boys and girls, as well as the owners of dogs of different sizes, I wondered about the metaphorical fences we create.

Sure, those fences make it easier for us to find people who have similar interests and opinions and who might not challenge us or disagree with us in our decision-making. Those fences also, however, separate us from others with whom we might have even more connections or common interests than we thought, especially if the filter for our “in” and “out” groups is as arbitrary as having sons, daughters or small dogs.

What if a man with a large dog worked in a similar field, had two children about my friend’s offspring’s ages, and went to the same college at the same time? Then again, what if a woman on the other side of the fence had nothing in common with my friend? She had no children, grew up in another country, worked in a completely different field, and didn’t see any of the same movies or read the same books? Would that make her less or more interesting? Perhaps that woman might be fascinating for her life experiences, compelling for her opinions, and amazing in her own way.

Recently, I sat in the window seat of a plane next to a large man who was stuck in the middle. An army veteran, he laughed as we reached our destination, saying he was unaccustomed to landing in planes. I took the bait, asking him why. He said he’d made over 150 jumps out of airplanes. 

He and his unit jumped out of planes at 800 feet, although he didn’t need to do much jumping, as he felt as if a hand pulled him out when he got to the opening. He never had to pull a chord, as the parachute automatically started opening within a second of leaving the plane.

On one type of plane, he stepped out and immediately started falling. Another had a small “bubble” outside the entrance, where he and others stood before leaving the plane. One of his army unit once forgot about the platform, took a small hop on the landing, and then rolled along the entire side of the plane. The others heard as his body scraped the airplane all the way to the back. Fortunately, the impact didn’t cause severe injuries.

One of the many instructions he received was to keep his chin on his chest as he exited. On his first jump, he didn’t, which caused enough discomfort that he never made that mistake again. He reached the ground at 38 miles per hour, at which point he was supposed to tuck and roll, ending on his back. Once, a crosswind turned him upside down and he landed on his head, cracking his helmet and causing a concussion.

Listening to his stories, I learned about something I will likely never do and connected with someone I will likely never see again. He did, however, expand my horizons and share his compelling life experiences, among other stories. I appreciated the opportunity to connect with someone who lives outside whatever fences I intentionally or unintentionally put up around me.

Last month, Terryville Road Elementary School celebrated National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Guided by the school social worker, Tiffany Liebling, students practiced kindness by participating in Kindness Bingo. Boys and girls could check off a box on their board by paying a student from a different class a compliment or making someone smile.

“It’s an absolute joy to see how thoughtful Terryville students are! I feel blessed to work with such exemplary children,” said principal Annemarie Sciove. 

A student-created poster contest depicting thoughtful quotes and artwork decorated the building for the last few weeks and winners were just announced. Congratulations go to 5th grader Anderson Latt, 4th grader Paige Stonehill and 3rd grader Gia Ochoa. And a special acknowledgement to Mrs. Stoeber’s class who won the Kindness Bingo and will enjoy a pizza party next week. 

“It’s good to take care of the world,” said 3rd grade winner, Gia. 

Photo from SWRSD

How many opportunities are there to celebrate the number 100? Miller Avenue School staff and students celebrated the 100th day of school with STEM projects galore, dressing as if they were 100 years old, having a 100th Day Parade and so much more.

Science, art, technology and, of course, math skills were used throughout the building to celebrate this exciting milestone. 

Students in Vicki Radonavitch’s kindergarten class used their growing imaginations to build whatever their engineering skills would allow out of 100 different manipulatives. Cara Behrens and Janelle Belotti’s first grade students built with 100 cups, Legos, pattern blocks and snapping cubes. They also organized stickers and fruit loops into 10s to make necklaces. 

“We had so much fun,” Ms. Behrens said. “It was an exciting day with the students collaborating together to work as a team and develop their interpersonal skills.” 

Other classes completed various center activities throughout the day, incorporating the number 100 and signifying the successful move forward in the academic year.

Stock photo

Local health care providers were eager to start administering doses of COVID-19 vaccines to children who are 5 to 11 years old, which they can now do after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the shots for children late Tuesday night.

“We definitely saw more cases [of COVID-19] in children after school started this year,” said Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. “We’d like to prevent that.”

Health care providers would also like to stop household transmission, in which a member of a home spreads the virus to everyone else with whom that person lives.

“Children usually get milder forms of COVID, but they can transmit disease to people around them,” Dr. Adrian Popp, chair of Infection Control at Huntington Hospital, explained in an email. “It is not unusual for children to bring COVID in the home and then household members to be exposed and get COVID, especially if they are unvaccinated and immunocompromised.”

In considering whether parents should get shots for their children, doctors urged parents to speak with their family pediatricians.

“They are the experts in your child’s care,” Nachman said. “They’ll have the most insight into who your kid is.”

Pfizer BioNTech said the vaccines, which were a third of the dose of an adult shot, were over 90% effective against symptomatic COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for vaccines for this age group.

“Authorization of the vaccine for younger children is an important step in keeping them healthy and providing their families with peace of mind,” Dr. Lee Savio Beers, president of the group, said in a statement. “The vaccine will make it safe for children to visit friends and family members, celebrate holiday gatherings, and to resume the normal childhood activities that they’ve missed during the pandemic.”

Doctors urged parents with children who have underlying cardiac or respiratory issues to give serious consideration to vaccinations that could prevent the spread of a virus that could be especially problematic for their children.

“Someone with underlying cardiac issues, if they were to get COVID-19, would have increased risk of poor outcomes,” Nachman said. “They should be prioritized. Waiting to get COVID is not a good idea.”

The same holds true for children with asthma, who could develop more problematic symptoms from contracting the virus, Nachman said.

While the doses for children will be lower, the immune system of younger people is more reactive than that for adults, which is why pharmaceutical companies tested a lower dose in their clinical trials.

Even with the smaller volume of the vaccine, “children will still not have waning immunity,” Nachman said. “It will be just as effective” as the higher dose for adults.

Besides having more reactive and resilient immune systems, healthy children also will likely have milder side effects from the vaccine because of the lower dosage.

To be sure, every child who is in this age range and becomes eligible for the shot shouldn’t immediately receive the vaccination.

The clinical trials didn’t include children with cancer or with other immunological difficulties.

“We did not enroll [children with those conditions] in clinical trials,” so it would be difficult to know how effective the vaccine would be for them, Nachman said.

Down the road, vaccinating a classroom of children in this age category could lead to a reduction in the current restrictions designed to protect the health of students and their educators.

“It’s too soon to say the next steps,” Nachman said, which could include learning without masks. Further information about the spread of the virus after vaccinations would inform future guidelines.

Popp added that booster needs for children in the future is also unknown.

“Data will be gathered and [officials] will see if this will become necessary,” Popp said.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

One day, you wake up and your kids who called noodles “noonies” are getting ready for college.

No, not exactly. It’s a long journey filled with skinned knees, ripped tee shirts — don’t ask — eye rolling and muttering between clenched teeth. Still, here we are, as our kids prepare to move on from the educational minor leagues. Along the way, we went through numerous milestones. Please find below a few of the phases in our journey.

— Deer in the headlights. I’ve seen deer in my headlights. The only difference between them and us when we first brought our children home is that the deer’s eyes are open much wider. We almost instantly became sleep-deprived. Other than that, we had that frozen not-sure-where-to-move feeling, knowing we had to do something, but not exactly sure what or in what order to take care of those needs.

— Hating everyone. People meant well back in the days when our children were young and cried. Numerous people, who didn’t live with or even know our needy infants, offered unsolicited advice about what this scream or that scream meant. Strangers would tell us how our daughter’s cry meant she had gas, was hungry, needed her diaper changed, or was hot or cold. Yes, thanks, those are the options. Thanks for the help!

— Cooking the plastics. Yup, back in the early days, I was so sleep deprived that I put plastic bottles in a pot of boiling water to sterilize them and fell asleep. It wasn’t until I smelled the burning plastic that I realized how long I’d been out.

— Carrying everything: We couldn’t go four blocks without a diaper bag filled with everything, including the special toy each of them needed, diapers, wipes, ointment, sunscreen, bug spray, rain jackets, boots, and extra clothing.

— Straining our backs: Picking the kids up and playing with them was fun when they were under 20 pounds. When they reached 50 and above, holding them the entire length of a ski slope became impossible.

— Crazy sports parents: This phase lasted much longer than it should have. It was only when the kids reached late middle school that I appreciated the fresh air, the sparkling sunlight and the excitement of the moment. Exercise and making friends are the goal. Everything else, including winning, is gravy.

— Giving them space (aka, it’s not about us). As they reached adolescence, our children needed to make their own decisions. Tempting as it was to jump in and redirect them or even to kiss them before they left the car for middle school, we bit our tongues as often as we could, leaving us feeling lonely and nostalgic in our cars as they joined their friends.

— Beautiful naps: Giving them space allowed us to do what we wanted. After years of living our lives while monitoring and helping theirs, we had a chance to do exactly what we wanted, which started with restorative naps.

— Sending them into space. We aren’t putting them in a Jeff Bezos rocket ship or sending them to the International Space Station, but we are preparing to give them an opportunity to explore the world outside our house.

— Looking at the calendar differently. With both of them on the way to their futures, we can choose places to visit that didn’t interest them. We can visit these places when school is in session, which should mean lower costs for us.

— Telling other people how to take care of their kids: With our free time, we see parents struggling with young children. We, of course, know better. Or maybe not.

The exterior of Stony Brook Children's Hospital. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

COVID-19, which was considered especially threatening to the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, may also have triggered an inflammatory illness that is sickening children in several places throughout the world, including in Suffolk County.

An inflammatory illness in children with symptoms that mimic Kawasaki disease has sickened seven in Suffolk County and officials are expecting more cases of the rare condition here and throughout the country.

Stony Brook Pediatric Hospital has admitted two cases of the multi-inflammatory pediatric condition, for residents who are 10 and 19 years old.

With other hospitals showing rare but similar unusual pediatric cases, including in the United Kingdom and New York City, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing to release an alert about the inflammatory condition, a CDC spokesman told CNN.

Symptoms of the new illness include an extended fever, a rash, red eyes, red lips, a strawberry tongue, lower blood pressure and abdominal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

Stony Brook, Pediatric Hospital has been “treating patients like we would treat and approach Kawasaki Disease,” said Christy Beneri, the Fellowship Program Director in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. The hospital has provided intravenous immunoglobulin, a high dose of aspirin and steroids to decrease inflammation and other medications to help suppress the inflammatory syndrome.

This rare inflammatory process in children has developed weeks after a likely mild or asymptomatic case of COVID-19 in mostly healthy younger patients.

Patients can develop symptoms from “days to weeks” after an infection with the virus that has caused the pandemic, Beneri said. The majority of people with this inflammatory reaction are either testing positive for COVID-19 when they come to the hospital or have a positive antibody test, which indicates their immune systems mounted a defense against the virus, Beneri added.

It is unclear to doctors what is causing the progression from a manageable response to the virus to an inflammation that may require a trip to the hospital and to the Intensive Care Unit.

“We are trying to understand how the coronavirus is causing vasculitis,” Beneri said. “It has something to do with how the virus is affecting blood vessels and organs.”

To be sure, Beneri reassured children and their parents that most of the children who are infected with Covid-19 will not develop these inflammatory symptoms later.

“The majority will do well,” Beneri said.

Nonetheless, Beneri anticipated that more pediatric residents in Suffolk County would likely show signs of this inflammatory response.

“If their child is having fever for a number of days, significant vomiting or diarrhea, belly pain, red eyes or a rash, it is important that they speak with their doctor,” Beneri said.

One of the reasons Suffolk County is seeing some cases of this Kawasaki-like response in children now, weeks after the pandemic infected thousands in the area, likely relates to the timing of the peak infections, which occurred in the middle of April.

Based on conversations Beneri has had with other pediatricians who are treating patients with similar symptoms, she said the patients tend to be “healthy kids” who have often had a contact with someone in their house who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19.

The child may have brought the virus into the home and passed it along to a parent, who became sick. The child, however, later develops these multiple-symptom inflammatory issues.

While some children have died from this condition, Beneri said the majority of them are recovering.

The duration of hospital stays has varied, with some patients requiring 10 days in the hospital, while others have recovered within a few days. Beneri said Stony Brook has already sent one patient home.

Beneri added Nassau County has also had several teenage patients come in with the same symptoms. She expects more Suffolk pediatric patients with similar symptoms to come to county hospitals.

Parents should be on the lookout, primarily, for persistent fevers over the course of several days with significant abdominal pain, Beneri said. “If they start developing other symptoms, such as red eyes and a rash and they are not getting better” then parents should contact their doctor or a hospital, Beneri advised.

by -
0 5912
File photo
Men inside store. Photo from SCPD

Two men who used a child to help them steal a saw from a Port Jefferson Station store are currently being sought by Suffolk County Police.

Security footage of men entering with child. Photo from SCPD

Two men, accompanied by two children, entered MVP Power Outdoor Equipment, located at 86 Comsewogue Road, May 8 at around 10:30 a.m. Police said one of the men instructed one of the children to remove a Stihl concrete saw from the shelf and the four then walked out of the store. The stolen saw has a value of approximately $1,050.

The men are wanted for grand larceny and endangering the welfare of a child.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 800-220-TIPS (8477) or texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637). All calls and text messages will be kept confidential.

by -
0 1244
The North Shore Youth Council recognized Parents of Megan’s Law founder Laura Ahearn, center. Photo from NSYC

The North Shore Youth Council has dedicated its attention to children across the local hamlets, but last week the organization thanked one group which looks to stop sexual violence against minors.

More than 150 students, their families and elected officials packed the ballroom of Majestic Gardens in Rocky Point, as the NSYC hosted its Big Buddy-Little Buddy and Volunteer Celebration May 20 and honored Laura Ahearn, an attorney and the founder and executive director of the Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center for her dedication to helping youth in the community. 

“Between our programs and Laura’s organization, I think this will heighten this topic.”

— Janene Gentile

The council presented Ahearn, who recently donated $5,000 to NSYC to develop the Laura Ahearn Resilience Scholarship, with an award and plaque. 

The scholarship will be given to high school students who have overcome sexual abuse to pursue a post-secondary education, and will be distributed in $1,000 increments during the next five years as students pursue higher education. 

Janene Gentile, executive director of NSYC, said the council is very grateful to be receiving the grant funds. 

“We are very excited to be giving this scholarship to a student, hopefully in September,” she said. “Between our programs and Laura’s organization, I think this will heighten this topic.”

Ahearn said it meant a lot to receive an award from such an active organization

“I want to thank them for all the great things they do in the community,” she said. 

The attorney said the council does a lot to protect kids from becoming sexual abuse victims. 

“For me, I’m really grateful that there are so many volunteers and people who want to dedicate their lives to help kids,” she said. “When kids don’t have the support they need, they become very vulnerable.”

Ahearn said it is very meaningful for her to be able to give out these scholarships, along with the support of the many people that made it possible for her to help people in the community. 

The attorney said the project has come full circle for her.

“I wanted to give back to an organization that took the time to listen to me when someone wouldn’t 20 years,” she said.  

During her acceptance speech, Ahearn spoke about her 25-year journey, her experiences with her organization and the importance of sexual abuse prevention. 

“The only way to stop this epidemic is to educate folks in the communities, educate your children and yourself,” she said. “Sexual predators are not strangers, they look like you and me, they act just like you and me — you would never know.”

The NSYC’s Big Buddy-Little Buddy program, which began in 1993, gets high school students paired up with younger children to become mentors for them. They engage in a variety of group activities that demonstrate, encourage and reinforce social competency skills.

“This is a celebration of our peer mentorship programs,” Robert Woods, the director of youth development at NYSC said. “Whether it’s helping them with homework, or talking about their day, it gives them a safe space to open up.”

This summer Brookhaven National Laboratory will collaborate with the Rocky Point nonprofit to offer a free STEM program. In addition, they will be working with the Staller Center at Stony Brook University to bring in young musicians to work with the children in the program.

At center, Rebecca Sanin, president and CEO of the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island, speaks about WIC changes Jan. 10. Photo by David Luces

By David Luces

Suffolk County officials are working to partner with food pantries and nonprofits to help ensure low-income women and children keep access to basic food and health care in the months ahead as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children undergoes a major change in the months ahead. 

The county offices of the WIC program are closed Jan.14 for a week to upgrade to a debit card-based system, making the transition away from paper checks to electronic benefit transfer cards in accordance with New York State law. 

The facilities will reopen Jan. 22 in limited capacity only to allow time for employee training and EBT card distribution to clients. 

“WIC sites are not only providers, they also serve as powerful community centers.”

— Rebecca Sanin

Suffolk officials expect the WIC program to be back up and running in April, but many are concerned that its recipients should have ready access to food and health care during
the transition.

The officials viewed the new EBT system changes as necessary to modernize and streamline the program for its more than 12,000 Suffolk recipients.  

“I can’t think of no greater priority than making sure babies and children in their youngest years are well fed and never face nutritional insecurities,” Rebecca Sanin, president and CEO of Health & Welfare Council of Long Island, said during a Jan. 10 press conference. 

The council, Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares and Island Harvest of Bethpage have compiled a listing of food pantries in close proximity to WIC offices for families in need during the closure at www.hwcli.com/wic-closings. 

WIC provides more than food for low-income families, it also offers basic health care for children under age 5 including height, weight, blood tests and iron levels. The program provides women and children with access to nutritional counseling, breastfeeding support and peer counseling. 

“WIC sites are not only providers, they also serve as powerful community centers,” Sanin said. “Food security leads to lower infant mortality rates and safer pregnancies.” 

 Paule Pachter, president and CEO of nonprofit Long Island Cares, said he recognizes there are challenges ahead. 

“If the public doesn’t provide the food to the pantries, we don’t have them.”

— Paule Pachter

“When you are trying to provide food for mothers and babies, you are talking about some of the most expensive food on the market,” Patcher said. “Formula, baby food, diapers, specialized food — this stuff is not readily available at the local food pantries.” 

Many individuals rely on LI Cares and Island Harvest for these products. 

“If the public doesn’t provide the food to the pantries, we don’t have them,” he said. “We’ve been preparing for this day for quite some time.”

As part of the preparations for the months ahead, LI Cares has made sure that mothers can have access to these vital products at their satellite locations in Freeport, Lindenhurst and Huntington Station. 

The Hauppauge nonprofit also created mobile outreach units to go into the community to make residents aware of the ongoing closure and changes to the EBT system. They will be visiting Centereach, Bay Shore, Bohemia, Brentwood, Patchogue, Riverhead and Southampton.  

Sanin said WIC agencies have worked very hard to get in contact with clients to pick up  their checks in advance. 

In addition, part of the new system will include the launch of a new smartphone app, WIC2Go, that will let clients track their benefits, find vendors and items. 

“The new system will be much easier for clients,” Sanin said.

by -
0 937

Waves of nostalgia can hit at any time. They tend to wash ashore more frequently in between graduations with their “look back, look forward” speeches and weddings. During these transition phases, we recall the days gone by, whether we’re suddenly comparing a memory from a few years to a decade or more earlier.

We watch our children stretch out surprisingly long arms to take a diploma and shake the hand of a school official, recalling how those hands used to reach up high to grab ours as we crossed the street.

We listen to their confident voices as they share detailed, measured and elaborate opinions about politics, sports, social issues or music. At the same time, we replay the high voices in our heads when they shared thoughts that weren’t so complex, as in “Jimmy Neutron is the best.”

When my wife and I walk around town, we frequently stop outside T-ball baseball games, where we soak in the figurative nostalgia bathtub. Johnny swings at seven pitches before he finally dribbles a ball foul. The exhausted coach encourages Johnny to “run, run, run!” Once the boy reaches first base, a small smile fills a round face that will get longer and leaner in the days ahead, until he reaches the stage where he rolls his eyes when people around him speak of sports because he and his razor stubble have tuned into the world of guitars and rock bands.

For some high school graduates, home has become a launchpad, where the NASA countdown to lift off for college will thrust them to a new location.

And then there are the brides and grooms, whose parents may recall their own weddings even as they smile at the way their children are planning to have people on stilts passing out hors d’oeuvres. The reason no one else thought of it, we think, is because it seems impractical, even though we don’t say that because we don’t want to rain on our children’s parade.

The parents of the bride and groom may remember the people who surrounded them at their wedding, from family members to important friends. Parents may have spent extra time searching through alumni directories or online listings to find the addresses of some of those important friends they haven’t seen in decades to invite them to another can’t-miss wedding.

Parents may stare at their children and recall the long journey from the cooties and a fear fascination with love and romance, to this moment when their child plans to travel the rest of his or her life with this marital partner.

What good does nostalgia do? It offers an opportunity to reflect on the past, while overlaying memories with current experiences. While we’re dancing to music we heard years ago, maybe at our own weddings or on an early date with a future spouse, we may close our eyes and reconnect with the younger version of ourselves. We remember who we were and who we wanted to be. We may laugh, realizing how far we have to go, or boost our resolve as we observe the changes in ourselves and others around us that encourage us to believe that anything, improbable or difficult though it may seem, is still possible.