Children of Bellevue: Get Connected
Featuring information for our friends who care about children in the hospital

February, 2015
Dear Friends, 

Even as adults, words often fail us.  For children, who often don't possess the vocabulary or confidence to express themselves verbally, art therapy becomes a tool to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior, develop social skills, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. An important goal of art therapy is to improve or restore a child's ability to function and their sense of personal well-being.

Children of Bellevue believes that children need more than medicine to thrive. Bellevue Hospital Center provides the medicine, we provide the "more".  Art Therapy is just one of the programs we support and its benefits can best be described by the following example:

Twelve year old PJ was admitted to the inpatient psychiatric unit after getting into physical fights with his sisters and inflicting harm to himself.  In a group Art Therapy session entitled "What I Cherish", the patients discussed the definition of the word 'cherish'.  PJ sketched this piece, explaining "What I cherish is my home and my family.  . . even my sisters who really get on my nerves sometimes!"

Recognizing PJ's psychological need for structure and emotional regulation within his family, Berena Sullivan, a licensed creative arts therapist, suggested that he paint in a ground for his family to stand on, creating a strong foundation for them.  He painted rocks for his sisters to stand on, grounding them in the painting and in his life.

PJ made a very quick recovery and soon returned home to his family and friends. Art Therapy groups often intertwine concepts of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to help children like PJ practice new ways of coping with the strong emotions that children his age often experience.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, "Art therapy helps people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight. Art therapy also provides an opportunity to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of art making." 


All of the work Children of Bellevue does on behalf of children like PJ is only possible with the philanthropic support of our donors.  In this issue of our quarterly newsletter, we hope to show you how we use these donations to help low-income children thrive.



Jean Folsom

Director of Development


To learn more about Art Therapy:

Meet Diane Brownstone



Results of studies are unequivocal: reading with young children is critical for their language, social and psychological development.   But books cost money, and for many parents of young patients at Bellevue Hospital, they are simply not affordable. That's why our Reach Out and Read program is so important; it puts books in the hands of children and helps parents understand the rewards of reading aloud.


At Bellevue Hospital Center, every child between the ages of six months and five years goes home from his checkup with a brand new book. Last year, Reach Out and Read sent more than 12,000 books home. The program's success relies on charitable contributions, and Children of Bellevue is especially grateful to Diane Brownstone and the Brownstone Family Foundation.


When it comes to charity and children's books, Diane knows what she's doing. For the past 25 years, underprivileged children across the country have had access to hand-picked, quality books thanks to Diane. The Kansas City, Missouri native developed a joy of reading at a very young age. As an adult, she realized many of America's libraries are underfunded, with sparse selections and little to offer young readers hungry for good stories. Diane decided to change that.   Each year, she chooses a state and calls its head librarian. Together, they select one hundred needy libraries in that particular state and Diane donates one hundred books to each of those libraries. She has personally read every selection.


When Children of Bellevue received a call that Diane wanted to learn more about Reach Out and Read, we were thrilled to give her a tour. "A friend had told me about the program, and I think it's a fantastic way to reach so many children who otherwise wouldn't have books," Diane said. As any diligent reader would, Diane did her homework. She sat down with Claudia Aristy, the head of our program, and was immediately impressed. Next she sent her husband, Clyde and their two grown children to Bellevue to see for themselves. They watched volunteers read to children in the waiting area and saw tiny hands and big smiles as toddlers proudly carried home their treasured books post checkup.  


Following this visit, the Brownstone Family Foundation made a generous donation to Reach Out and Read.   2015 will mark the third year we have been the recipient of their kindness and we are grateful every day.   As the program grows, so do our needs. Now, because of Diane and Clyde, we can achieve new goals.   "Thanks to their level of contribution, we'll be able to purchase multilingual books that otherwise would be out of our budget.   At the same time, we're able to enhance our program by adding new publications," said Claudia Aristy.  


Offering a wider range of books allows us to reach more families.   For
most schools require daily reading at home, which can present a 

challenge to parents for whom English is not their first language. Brownstone's funding enables us to provide books with accompanying CD's.   Parents report to us that not only are they able to read along with their children, but the CD's actually help the parents improve their own English reading skills. We are also excited to expand our offering of "touch and feel" books for visually impaired children. Bellevue Hospital pediatricians have found that the sensory experience derived from these books is beneficial and comforting to the children.


There is nothing like sharing a great book with a friend. Thousands of young patients at Bellevue Hospital have a caring, committed friend in our remarkable supporter, Diane Brownstone and the Brownstone Family Foundation.


To learn more about Children of Bellevue's Reach Out and Read Program:

Looking Back: Books of Wonder 2014

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." -Lemony Snicket


On a blustery day the first week of December, parents, children, and friends of Children of Bellevue gathered for two great parties at Books of Wonder, one of Manhattan's last independent children's book stores on West 18th Street. The reason? To support Bellevue's Reach Out and Read program, celebrating the notion that one of the greatest gifts we can give a child is a love of reading, and it is never too early to begin.


In June 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new policy statement recommending that pediatric providers advise parents of young children that reading aloud and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development and parent-child relationships.


Children of Bellevue's Reach Out and Read program is part of a national, evidence-based initiative that promotes early literacy and school readiness by giving books to children at regular checkups starting at six months of age along with advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. Our program encourages reading as a regular, joyful home activity that can improve language development, parent-child interactions, and academic success.


Children of Bellevue Day at Books of Wonder is an annual event that raises vital support for this program. It's more than just a fundraiser, however. Books of Wonder Day actually consists of two fabulous parties, each made up of two very different crowds-crowds that were able to help raise more than $4000! Customers received 10% off of their purchases and Books of Wonder matched that 10% in a donation when people mentioned Children of Bellevue. Additionally, people were encouraged to donate a book in honor of a loved one and place it on our special bookshelf (see below).




The first party started at 3:00 pm with storytelling and a book-signing by special guest Steve Light, author and illustrator of Have You Seen My Dragon? Children in attendance enjoyed making bookmarks, face-painting, and eating as many homemade cookies as Mom and Dad would allow.



"It's been a terrific event!   I loved that a child could roam throughout the store picking books for themselves or to donate, or choose an activity.   What a wonderfully upbeat, fun atmosphere! " said Jennifer Davidson, a Children of Bellevue Board Member and mother of two young daughters. "Truly well done! I'm proud to be associated with such a great event!"


The second party started at 6 pm and featured Alex London, author of Proxy and the series Dog Tags and Accidental Adventures. Alex spoke about why he felt such a connection to Reach Out and Read and signed copies of his books. Festive refreshments rounded out the evening.


The night was a resounding success-our Reach Out and Read program will now be able to buy thousands of new, age-appropriate books for the children that come into Bellevue's Pediatric Clinic, as well as distribute the books that party attendees donated directly.


They say that if you teach a man to fish you'll be feeding him for a lifetime. Reach Out and Read is proof positive that if you give a child a book you will be fostering a love of learning that will last them a lifetime. Thank you to everyone who attended our Books of Wonder event and remember us next December when it will be time to do it all again!

Meet the 2015 Toast to the Children Honorees
Every spring, friends and supporters of Children of Bellevue, Inc. come together for our largest benefit of the year--Toast to the ChildrenFamed chef and Children of Bellevue board member, Tom Colicchio of Craft Restaurants and Bravo's Top Chef, serves as host and emcee of this incredibly popular food and wine tasting event.  Proceeds from the event support vital programs and services for children and their families at Bellevue Hospital Center.


This year's gala will take place on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015, so be sure to mark your calendar and purchase your tickets by clicking here.  Close to 500 people are expected to attend and sample some of New York's finest foods and wines.


Corporate Honoree
Bao D. Truong
Senior Managing Director
Centerbridge Partners LP
For a Full Biography Click Here

Medical Honoree
Benard Dreyer, MD
Director of Pediatrics
Bellevue Hospital Center/
AAP President-Elect Candidate/
Director, Divison of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Department of Pediatrics NYU School of Medicine
For a Full Biography Click Here

Culinary Honoree
Michel Nischan
Two-time James Beard Foundation
Award Winning Celebrity Chef
For a Full Biography Click Here

Child Life: Inside the Clinic


Nineteen year old Jasmin came to Bellevue Hospital Center's outpatient clinic when she was fifteen years old and seven months pregnant. "It was a tough journey," she told us. "I was pretty far along and hadn't had any prenatal care yet, so I had a lot of doctor's appointments in a short period of time."


It is not unusual for adolescents to seek prenatal care at late stages of their pregnancy, often near term. Jasmin's initial assessment was designed to be comprehensive; medical (including all lab work), nursing, and social work evaluations were completed during these visits. Jasmin also joined the Adolescent Parent Group, a prenatal "preparing for the baby" program provided by the child development staff in the pediatric playroom.


The Adolescent Parent Group, begun in 1976, is designed to provide ongoing care to mothers and their babies by coordinating their doctors' appointments for the same day and time. Each session takes place in the informal setting of the clinic playroom and focuses on parenting issues and child development. Other topics of discussions include birth control methods and other current concerns of the mothers. Adolescent parents remain in the program until they are nineteen or their baby is six months of age and then continue to receive medical and pediatric care in the adult and pediatric clinics.


We caught up with Jasmin, her mom, and her three year old daughter, Esmeralda, on "graduation" day. Jasmin told us that she loves coming to the group to see friends and just enjoy the experience. Esmeralda considers the group her "school" and worked on an art project while we chatted with





During her three years in the program, Jasmin has become especially close with Susana Torino, one of the Child Life Specialists who runs the group. "She has always been there for me from the very beginning. She helps me schedule or reschedule appointments or anything else I need help with." Susana's role was especially vital during Esmeralda's first dentist appointment. "She was frightened because she didn't know what to expect. Susana kept her calm and stayed with her for the entire appointment. Esmeralda has never been afraid to go to the dentist again!



Teen mothers are encouraged to finish high school and pursue technical training or college. Jasmin was a sophomore in high school when she gave birth but transferred to night school because she didn't have child care during the day. "I graduated from high school in January of 2014 and went to La Guardia College for a semester to study social work. But the program took five or six years and I really needed to get my career started to support my daughter. I really enjoy the field of beauty, so now I'm in beauty school, five days a week, and will graduate in May. I'll probably work in a salon to start, but hope to freelance or open my own business one day."


Margaret T. McHugh, MD, MPH is director of ambulatory adolescent services at Bellevue Hospital Center, and is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine, as well as Director of the Frances L. Loeb Child Protection Center at Bellevue Hospital. In 2011, with her interdisciplinary team of pediatricians, Child Life Specialists, social workers and nurses, she compared the characteristics and outcomes of adolescent mothers and their infants in Bellevue's program with national statistics of teenage pregnancy to determine the effect of the program on measures of medical and psychosocial health of both mother and child.


They concluded that infants of mothers attending Adolescent Parent Group had more well-child visits and exceeded NYC immunization rates, there were additional health benefits for these infants, and there were no identified child abuse referrals for this group.  


Adolescent Parent Group is just one more example of what Children of Bellevue calls "more than medicine." Thanks to the support of our donors, more of New York City's vulnerable children and teens will live brighter, happier and healthier lives. Thank you!


Children of Bellevue was founded by volunteers and still depends on the help of others to continue our good work.  Throughout the year, Children of Bellevue hosts volunteer evenings on the Child & Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatric Units.  These events often include arts and crafts, snacks, and story time for the younger patients, and are a truly rewarding experience for for students and professionals who can't sign on for a long term daytime or evening commitment but still want to make a difference.
Halloween Pumpkin Painting
Volunteers joined us throughout October to participate in Halloween themed volunteer nights. We painted pumpkins with the young children and teens, and made decorations with the "tweens" to jazz up their Halloween Party.  Halloween is easily one of the favorite holidays for most children and teenagers, and it was especially beneficial and rewarding to give these patients a little bit of that spooky fun during their stay in the hospital. 
December Means Gingerbread Houses!
Another very popular volunteer event took place on December 16th.  Volunteers joined the "tweens" on the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit to build some fabulous Gingerbread Houses.  (Can you make out what is spelled out in the picture to the right?)
The kids and the volunteers worked hard to create more than a dozen edible houses. Some were given to the nursing staff to take home, while others were devoured before the icing dried!
The holidays are a time for giving and spending time with those who care, and volunteer nights like this one help ease the isolation of being in the hospital during the holiday season. 
Thank you to all of the volunteers who joined us in 2014 to continue to provide a little bit of the 'More Than Medicine' that our children need to thrive.
In This Issue
Click to Make a Donation!
Children of Bellevue | (212) 562-4130 | | 462 First Avenue
New York, NY 10016