Free Summer Meals
for all children

Delicious Sandwiches • Tasty Salads • Fresh Fruit • Cold Milk

Starting June 28th

Call 311


Text “NYCMeals” to 877-877

To find an open pool, school, or park near you!

Available to all children 18 years old or younger every weekday.

School Hours

Breakfast: 8:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

Lunch: 11:00 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Children do not need to show registration, documentation, or an ID to receive their meals.

For Young Children with Autism, Directing Attention Boosts Language


Thursday, June 21, 2012

For young children with autism, directing attention boosts language

NIH-supported study confirms that pointing, gestures to focus attention improve later language

An intervention in which adults actively engaged the attention of preschool children with autism by pointing to toys and using other gestures to focus their attention results in a long term increase in language skills, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

At age 8, children with autism who received therapy centered on sharing attention and play when they were 3 or 4 years old had stronger vocabularies and more advanced language skills than did children who received standard therapy. All of the children in the study attended preschool for 30 hours each week.

“Some studies have indicated that such pre-verbal interactions provide the foundation for building later language skills,” said Alice Kau, Ph.D., of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH institute that supported the study. “This study confirms that intensive therapy to engage the attention of young children with autism helps them acquire language faster and build lasting language skills.”

First author Connie Kasari, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), conducted the research with colleagues Amanda Gulsrud, Ph.D., Stephanny Freeman, Ph.D., Tanya Paparella, Ph.D., and Gerhard Hellemann, Ph.D.

UCLA is one of 11 institutions that receive support from the NIH through the Autism Centers of Excellence Program.

The study findings appear in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The 40 children who participated in the study were 8 and 9 years old. Five years earlier, they had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and received the intensive therapy program or standard intervention, as part of a separate study.

The researchers assessed the children’s vocabulary, language, and other cognitive skills. They then compared the results of these assessments to those taken when the children were 3 and 4 years old. The earlier and later assessments also included measures of the child’s ability to initiate interactions with adults, the variety of the child’s play, and the quality of interactions with a parent.

The researchers found that children who started the attention-focusing therapy earlier had more advanced linguistic skills at age 8. Those who learned to point or direct an adult’s attention to an object of interest at age 3 and 4 also developed more advanced language skills when they were 8. And children who showed greater flexibility in playing with objects at age 3 or 4 demonstrated better memory and other cognitive skills at age 8.

“Our findings show that therapy focused on such basic skills as pointing, sharing, and engaging in play can have considerable long-term effects as children with autism spectrum disorders grow and learn to express themselves with words,” said Dr. Kasari.


About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s website at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Big Apple RX: Save with a NYC Discount Prescription Card!

Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley Announce New Yorkers Saved $6 Million with BigAppleRx 

The City launched its first official prescription drug discount card one year ago.

New York, NY – In May 2011, New York City released its first official prescription drug discount card, BigAppleRx. Today, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Health Department Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced that since its debut, the BigAppleRx card saved more than 56,500 New Yorkers a total of $6 million on prescription medications, for an overall savings of 47%. The BigAppleRx card is free of charge, available to anyone regardless of age, income, citizenship or health insurance status and accepted at more than 2,000 city pharmacies, including Target, Duane Reade, Walgreens and CVS.

“Health care is a growing cost for New Yorkers and it’s up to the government and our partners to find innovative solutions to this problem – BigAppleRx is one of them,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “To me, these numbers represent that we’ve been able to provide a little peace of mind for people burdened by the expense of prescription drugs. No one should have to forgo necessary medication because it’s too costly, and with more and more New Yorkers armed with this card, fewer will have to choose between saving their health and saving their money.”

“Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers need to take medicines for chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “The BigAppleRx prescription drug discount card is one way we can help New Yorkers afford these medicines so they can avoid the consequences of these conditions.”

“The incredible benefit BigAppleRx has brought to over 56,000 New Yorkers is cause for celebration and a great example of what is possible when government and industry work in tandem to address the challenges faced by New Yorkers,” said Council Health Committee Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

“This program is taking a big bite out of prescription drug costs in the Big Apple. As Chair of the City Council Aging Committee, I’m especially pleased that this card has helped seniors save money,” said Council Aging Committee Chair Jessica Lappin.

New Yorkers saved 63% on generic prescription drugs and 18% on name brand prescription drugs. A total of 155,850 claims were discounted through BigAppleRx. The thousands of New Yorkers using the card have seen an average annual savings of $295 per household.

People can easily download and print the card by visiting or by downloading the iPhone or Android app and presenting the card to pharmacists right from their phone.

For more information on how to get the BigAppleRx card or to locate participating pharmacies, visit or call311.

High! - Year 2 - 285/365

High! – Year 2 – 285/365 (Photo credit: Amarand Agasi)

This Weekend in NYC Parks, June 23rd and 24th

Saturday, June 23

Cleaning Westerleigh Park

9:00 a.m.12:00 p.m.
Come out and lend a hand to help us rake, weed and do various gardening chores. Join us for… Location: Westerleigh Park, Staten Island
Category: Volunteer

Fitness Hike (Vigorous)

11:00 a.m.
Hiking is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and reduce stress. Regardless of the…
Location: High Rock Ranger Station (in High Rock Park), Staten Island

Rockstock and Barrels

12:00 p.m.6:00 p.m.
Rockaway rocks with this 6th annual festival including surf contests, skate board demos and…
Location: B.90th street Rockaway Beach (in Rockaway Beach), Queens

Summer on the Hudson: Kayaking on the Hudson

10:00 a.m.5:00 p.m.
Join the Downtown Boathouse for 20-minute instructional paddles, and explore the Hudson…
Location: AccessibleKayaking on the Hudson Meeting Point (in Riverside Park), Manhattan

Sunday, June 24

Saltwater Fishing

11:00 a.m.
Mastering any new skill requires practice and patience. Fishing programs help develop these…
Location: East River Esplanade, Manhattan

Lost Ladybugs at High Rock Park

1:00 p.m.2:00 p.m.
Some species of ladybugs, including the official insect of New York State seem to be…
Location: AccessibleHigh Rock Gate (in High Rock Park), Staten Island


Stay hydrated and productive during these hot summer days by carrying your own reusable water bottle instead of buying one. Over 1500 bottles of water are consumed in the US every second, and 90% of these go into landfills. Parkies Marianne Anderson in the Bronx and Jeff Sigadel in Brooklyn have already pledged to bring a reusable water bottle to work.

Staten Island Outdoor Events for June 2012

  • NatureFest at Willowbrook Park Eton Place, Staten Island NY 10314 Saturday June 9, 2012 11am-3 pm -Learn about the great outdoors around you -Meet NYC’s premier environmental organizations -Hands-on activities and live animals -Fun for the entire family-Event will be held on the walkway between the Carousel for All Children and the Archery Fields.
  • Alice Austen House Presents Foreclosed: Documents from the American Housing Crisis
    Friday, June 1, 2012 – 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
    Alice Austen House Museum, Staten Island
  • Strawberry Festival Saturday, June 2, 2012 Life is just a bowl of strawberries in Queens this weekend. Come to Highland Park on Saturday or Utopia Playground on Sunday for the free children’s Strawberry Festival, a celebration of all things berry!
  • Kayaking and Canoeing
    No matter your skill level, this summer is a perfect time to head to the waterfront. The New York City Water Trail connects 160 square miles of NYC’s waterways for experienced paddlers. Or, take a look at upcoming Kayaking and Canoeing events for beginner and intermediate paddlers.
  • Happy Hounds Hike

    Sunday, June 3, 2012 LINK

    11:00 a.m.12:00 p.m.

    Bring your canine companions for a hike through High Rock Park in the Greenbelt, where you and your dogs can learn the trails and make new friends.

    Hikers should meet at the parking lot of High Rock Park, 200 Nevada Avenue, off of Rockland Avenue.

    Remember to bring water and bags to clean up after your dog. Registration required.