SCAN has been awarded new contracts that enabled us to open two additional centers in East Harlem.
We now run a total of seven Cornerstone community centers in the community. The two new Cornerstone centers, at Lehman Village on Madison Avenue and East 108th St., and at Dewitt Clinton Houses on Lexington Avenue and East 110th St., opened in July, just in time to offer summer camp programs. They join our five other sites — East River Houses, Johnson Houses, Jackie Robinson Houses, King Towers, and Wagner Houses — which together span an area between East 103rd and East 129th Street.
All of our Cornerstones, which are funded by the NYC Dept. of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), are situated within New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments, and are open from 2pm to 10pm, Monday through Friday, and from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays. The centers provide enrichment activities focusing on academics, artistic exploration, community service, and personal development by offering a wide array of programming for all ages, including homework assistance, visual and performing arts, computers and graphic design, cooking classes, step/dance classes and recreation.
At both new centers — which each serve over 160 children, teens and adults each day — an strong effort is being made to get to know the youth and adults who attended, and to create new activities that will engage them. At Lehman Village, where Program Director Kelley Burke has over 10 years experience at SCAN (as both an assistant director and director), examples of new programming include an intergenerational cosmetology class, and adult fitness classes via Shape Up NYC (program from the NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation). Ms. Burke is also working to embed mini workshops around girls empowerment into her programs, which will help fuel interest in larger events in this area that SCAN will present throughout the year.
At Clinton Houses, Program Director Cynthia Chisholm (who started partnering with SCAN as a parent volunteer back in 2000, and most recently worked for us as an afterschool site director in the South Bronx) is experimenting with a new yoga class while also building on some tr
aditional draws, like board games. Most exciting for Ms. Chisholm right now is the center’s new relationship with the highly regarded Harlem Jets Cheerleading organization. “It’s something completely new for the kids here, and they are so eager to get started”.
For both directors, much of what comes next will be based conversations and feedback from the young program participants and their parent: hearing parent’s personal stories, learning more about what’s happening at a child’s school, and asking what the students want. As Ms. Chisholm puts it, “It’s really their center, so with the right support and guidance, it can become like a second home that feeds their interests and sparks creativity.”