New Learning Hub Looks to Bring More Educational Opportunities to City's Low-Income Children

An Upper West Side children's museum is bringing its educational programs to kids around the city, and some of the five boroughs' most vulnerable young people are benefiting. NY1's Roger Clark filed hte following report.

Two-year-old Orlando Cotto took full advantage of an interactive display on the importance of green markets and fresh produce inside the family shelter where he lives with his parents and three siblings. 

"They grasp everything that's getting thrown at them. They learn from it. And then they want to share it," said Rosemarie Pimentel, who is living in the Albemarle Family Residence. 

Forty-three families, including Pimentel's, with more than 200 children live in the Albemarle Family Residence in Flatbush. It's one of the shelters benefiting from a partnership between the Department of Homeless Services and the Children's Museum of Manhattan, which has developed a health and literacy learning hub for kids and parents.

"Empowering parents to feel inspired to parent. Helping kids to make healthy choices. And really uplifting the entire family," said Leslie Bushara, deputy director of the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

Bushara showed me the bright and colorful educational displays throughout the shelter. Fifteen hubs have already been placed in shelters and day care programs around the city, including the first of 10 planned with the help of a grant from Target Stores.

The program is a response to the city's homeless crisis - the nearly 24,000 children in city shelters. 

"We are able to give them stability and the kind of healthy living education that this innovative program provides," said Steven Banks, commissioner of the Department of Social Servies.

The organization that runs Albemarle says the hub dovetails with its mission to provide familes a safe place to live during a difficult time in their lives. 

"It's educational. It's showing that we are compassionate and we care," said Susan Alter, co-executive director of Home/Live Services Inc.

"They need interactive situations. And they also need to feel like they are part of a community," said Gerald Schreck, co-executive director of Home/Life Services Inc.

The Children's Museum of Manhattan is sharing their services in communities around town through this program, but they also want everyone involved to pay them a visit on the Upper West Side.

A bonus: families at participating shelters and community centers receive free trips and membership to the Museum. 

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