#WhyCFK, CFK Events, P.S. 277

Aspiring Fashion Designer and P.S. 277 Alum Naiomi Chacon Visits New York Fashion Week

Naiomi Chacon, a proud graduate of Change for Kids partner school P.S. 277, won the hearts of guests at CFK’s 4th annual Super Chefs as the night’s keynote student speaker. Naiomi spoke about her experiences at P.S. 277 and how an eyeopening CFK field trip to BlackRock got her thinking about her future career as a fashion designer.

“I have a passion for fashion. I sketch looks all the time in my notebook. I like to draw the people around me and add fashion details to their outfits,” Naiomi said at Super Chefs. “One day, I could be a model with her own clothing line. I could design evening wear for the red carpet and walk the catwalk at Fashion Week.”

Although she’s only a 6th grade student, Naiomi is already getting to work. And that inspired many Super Chefs guests.

Eager to encourage this Fashionista to pursue her dreams, Change for Kids Board Member Louise Phillips Forbes coordinated a memorable day for Naiomi: a trip to the February MILLY New York Fashion Week show and backstage access to interview MILLY designer Michelle Smith.

This past February, Naiomi and Louise embarked on their girls day out. The day started off with a special birthday lunch for Naiomi at Del Posto and then onto the MILLY fashion show. Naiomi watched the show in awe, as models gracefully passed by and colorful lights flashed. The sparkly outfits were her favorite! (Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little sparkle?!)

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Naiomi and Louise Phillips Forbes enjoy a lunch at Del Posto before heading to New York Fashion Week
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Naiomi ready for the show to start!

After the show, Naiomi and Louise went backstage to interview MILLY designer Michelle Smith. Naiomi asked Michelle Smith how she comes up with her t-shirt designs, what family members share the same passion as her, and more. Naiomi learned about all the planning that goes into a fashion show and selling a clothing line. Michelle Smith even suggested that her and Naiomi work together to design dress and a “really cool t-shirt.” We can’t wait to see the designs!

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Louise Phillips Forbes, Naiomi, and MILLY designer Michelle Smith backstage at New York Fashion Week

Thank you Louise Phillips Forbes and Michelle Smith for making this amazing opportunity possible for Naiomi. Now we’re counting down until Naiomi takes on New York Fashion Week in 2030!

Watch Naiomi and Louise’s spectacular day and Naiomi’s interview with Michelle Smith below.

P.S. 81

P.S. 81 Graduates Get a Jump on Middle School

Middle school is tough for almost everyone. It’s hard to find a single person who would look back on seventh grade and say, “That was the best time of my life!”

Imagine if, when you were in the fifth or sixth grade, someone could have given you a heads-up, a little more insight, a boost of confidence and self-respect, before you left your cozy elementary school for the unfamiliar halls of the middle school. It would have made that first year a lot better.

For years, Principal Cheryl Ault-Barker has wanted to send her fifth graders off with just such an extra dose of wisdom and love, and this spring, she will.  School Manager Zareta Ricks tapped four fantastic volunteers from the local community to speak to the graduating class.

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In two two-part workshops–“It’s a Girl Thing” and “Grooming for Greatness”–volunteers Ms. Angela, Ms. Katrina, and Ms. Tennille led the girls and Mr. Russell and Mr. Arthur led the boys in discussions that opened a safe space for students to voice their fears about leaving elementary school. They encouraged students to think about what it meant to have confidence, self-respect, and character when they faced situations that might intimidate them.

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The workshops also addressed gender stereotypes, peer pressure, dressing for success and personal hygiene. To help bring their discussions to life, boys received a lesson in how to tie a tie and a free haircut, and girls received full manicures.

When the conversation turned to what it meant to be a girl and what it meant to be a boy, the focus was on standing together and respecting each other, and that made it possible for students to ask personal questions they hadn’t been able to ask anyone before.

Of course there was plenty of giggling and blushing, not to mention lots of gaping mouths and gobsmacked expressions in that portion of the workshop, but as one girl explained, “It’s too much, but I have to know what’s happening!” Cupcakes and treats definitely helped make it much more bearable. And what these fifth graders learned will make their transition to a new school smoother and safer.

Many, many thanks to our stellar volunteer workshop leaders, who made such an impact on our students!

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CFK Program Partners

Behind the Scenes at Story Pirates HQ – VIDEO

One of CFK’s most beloved volunteer opportunities, Story Love puts our students’ whimsical stories in the hands of grown-up readers. Readers provide our budding authors with crucial positive feedback, while our students share unforgettable heroes, villains, plots twists and one-liners, like this winner from a recent session in May: “If life gives you disco balls, just disco.” Excellent advice, future Tolstoy!

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But attending a Story Love session at the Story Pirates HQ in the Drama Book Shop on West 40th, volunteers get a glimpse at the madcap creative engine behind the stories they are commenting on.  Just before Memorial Day, a group of readers from the Junior League gathered there to offer feedback on stories from 4th and 5th graders at P.S. 160 in Queens. They worked in a space packed with props from past shows–dolphins, a giant Hello Kitty doll, and masks that would give Jim Henson a run for his money.  Behind the readers was a wall of kid authors whose stories have been performed at Saturday shows.

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In the room next door, the Story Pirates were rehearsing at full tilt, and readers couldn’t help but laugh at overheard lines. We caught a sneak peak of the Story Pirates’ amazing creativity at work–check out this video of a few select scenes from a story about a muscle-obsessed lonely cow. Many thanks for this insider’s view, and to our friends in the Junior League for volunteering for Story Love!

Behind the Scenes with the Story Pirates for CFK from Change for Kids on Vimeo.

P.S. 81

P.S. 81 Learns to De-Stress before Tests – VIDEO

Nothing creates stress in the classroom quite like state tests; and nothing gets in the way of a clear head like stress. With that in mind, School Manager Zareta Ricks and Fitness Director Justin Jones from our partner program, Fan4Kids, put together a special class to help students tackle their exams. We know they’re going to do great–last year, P.S. 81 achieved an “A” rating, in part because of student success!

For the first half of the class, students had a lesson in meditation. Listening to nature sounds, they learned how to calm their minds and open their senses to the world around them. Then, after a stretch at their desks, it was outside into one of the first warm spring days to burn off any nervous energy–and have some fun!

Here are the P.S. 81 champions, showing us how its done:

P.S. 81 Stress-Busting Champs! from Change for Kids on Vimeo.

P.S. 15

From Playing Video Games to Making Them, Meet Jubi from P.S. 15 – VIDEO

“My name is Jubahed (Jubi for short) and I’m ten years old in fifth grade at P.S. 15…. I am really excited to go to the computer camp!”

Thanks to a generous donation, Jubi will be attending idTech Camp at Columbia University this summer. For Jubi, playing video games wasn’t enough–he wanted to make his own. He’s tried by himself and in school, but with a summer at idTech Camp, Jubi will be able to learn the programs he needs to make the games he loves.

I spoke with Jubi about his favorite kinds of games and his plans for camp. Following the interview, Jubi will take you on a tour of one of his games. We can’t wait to see what Jubi creates next!

AH: How did you get interested in computers?

JQ: Well, it all started when I was six. My brother found out about video games so after he finished his homework he would start playing them. They looked fun, so I tried them. Later, I was looking on the Internet about creating games. I was super interested in that so I tried it at home. I thought it was really amazing–I guess that’s why I wanted to learn more about computers

AH:What kind of games do you like the best?

JQ: I like RPG-style games, but I don’t always have free time, so when I do that’s what I like to play. I have a pretty decent amount of homework.

AH: What is an RPG, for someone who doesn’t know?

JQ: An RPG game is a role-playing game, so you are a character in the game and there are usually monsters in it. For instance, there’s Pokemon–and depending on your choices, the game changes.

AH: What are you hoping to do this summer at idTech Camp?

JQ: I’m hoping to create my own RPG game.  I’ve tried it before but I didn’t think what I made was good. I didn’t know how to use the program–RPG Maker–that well, but I am hoping to learn how to use it better.

AH: Do you have some ideas for characters you’d like to put in your game?

JQ: Not yet, but I was thinking of making a game similar to Pokemon, with monsters. I think the best part of playing games is defeating someone who is evil at the end of the game.  I was thinking I would start off in a little town, in the character’s room. But maybe then something bad happens.

AH: And then you have to be the hero in the game?

JQ: Yeah.

In this video, Jubi walks you through a game he created at school.

Jubi Explains His Video Game Design from Change for Kids on Vimeo.

P.S. 81

P.S. 81 Students Find New Friends at The Hackley School – VIDEO

Earlier this year, our students at P.S. 81 enjoyed a Saturday of arts, sports, music and fun with a group of fantastic ninth graders from The Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY. What started off as a volunteer opportunity for the Hackley students quickly turned into new friendships and an important relationship between two very different schools.

“I had such a great day at P.S. 81 because we were able to make the kids’ day that much better,” offered one Hackley student. “We didn’t just brighten their day, they made us laugh, too and helped us enjoy the day even more. Everybody taught the kids something and helped them to enjoy the idea of school which is an important part of their young lives.”

We can’t wait for the Hackley students to come back, and hope to replicate this relationship in our other partner schools. Click here to read more of the students’ reflections on their day at P.S. 81.

Check out this video of the day these students spent together:

Hackley Helps PS 81 Edit 2a from Change for Kids on Vimeo.

P.S. 160

Chef Maneet Chauhan Dresses to Impress at P.S. 160

When Super Chef Maneet Chauhan comes to your school, you know you are in for a treat–a fruity, tangy, delicious treat you had no idea you could whip up from things sitting at home in your fruit crisper.

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For the students at P.S. 160, she created a fresh fruit kebab. Students skewered chopped cantaloupe, honey dew, pineapples, oranges, strawberries and grapes to make their own snacks.

Then, explaining that everyone must work together as a team in the kitchen, Chef Chauhan had groups of students create single kebabs for guests in the room.

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Once the kebabs were done, Chef Chauhan started in on a dressing. She introduced the class to the tastes of mango power and mint powder, which she combined with lemon juice and pomegranate seeds and drizzled over the fruit.

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The trick to getting pomegranate seeds out of the rind? Cut the fruit in half, turn it over, and tap a spoon on the back.

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Students were impressed with how the dressing changed the flavor and texture of the fruit, and left eager to try recreating the snack at home. Thanks, Chef Chauhan!

For more photos of this class with Chef Chauhan, click here.