Interview with Roy Blumenfeld, Co-Founder of Solidaritees

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On February 1st South Slope Pediatrics shared our cultures and promises with all of our patients and families, including our core value #7, being humble.  We’ve had such positive responses to this,  one of the most meaningful coming from SSP parents Justin and Kelly Brandon and Roy Blumenfeld and his wife, Lauren Links, who shared an incredible project they had just launched THAT week.  Their project, Solidaritees, ties in to SSP’s promise to always treating others how we would want to be treated.  Solidaritees is a non-profit t-shirt venture they started to show solidarity with the Muslim Americans and refugees after the current administration signed their executive order on the refugee ban.  These brave families decided to take their sadness and frustration and turn that energy into creating a t-shirt and movement with the most positive, inclusive message….hoping to create a dialogue and helping dissolve the fear of the unfamiliar.  Let’s learn more about this venture and how we can help support and get the word out about this amazing cause, started right here in the Slope.

SSP:  Before we dive into this awesome project you have just launched, can you please tell us more about yourself and the other SSP families who are behind this project?

This project was a joint venture of Roy Blumenfeld and Lauren Links (parents of Gabriel Blumenfeld, 22 mo old) and Justin and Kelly Brandon (parents of Ceci Brandon, 19 mo old). Lauren and Roy are both independent high school teachers (Lauren at Berkeley Carroll and Roy at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School). Kelly is a teacher at the Avenues school, and Justin runs a digital marketing company. Our families have been friends for a number of years now and the bond has grown closer since we have kids so close in age.

SSP: How did you connect and make this happen? What inspired you to do this?

Kelly and Justin organized a postcard making party the day after Trump signed his executive order on the refugee ban so folks could write to their members of congress. I was feeling exceptionally sad and frustrated that day. The immigration order, whether intentionally or not, was signed on Holocaust Memorial Day. I’m the child of four Holocaust survivors, so this day has always been challenging for me. I’m all too aware that refugee policy can be a matter of life or death. Sitting around the morning after, I had the idea of wearing a shirt with Arabic on it as a show of solidarity. Justin said he would do the same, and an idea was born. The seed is the shared belief that there’s nothing more important than standing up for those most vulnerable in our society.

SSP: Solidaritees is such a smart name for this venture. Can you please explain the phrase on the front, why you chose it and also the decision behind not including a translation?

The shirt says “ahlan wasahlan,” which simply means “Welcome,” and comes from a beautiful Arab tradition of welcoming strangers as family. We chose not to include a translation in order to encourage conversation. We hope people will wear the shirts in public and wear them often to encourage conversation with neighbors, colleagues, and strangers. We considered a number of possibilities for the shirt including American phrases like “this land is your land” written out in Arabic, but ultimately chose something that was both already familiar to the Arab community (and invariably elicits a smile from those who can read it) as well as something not overtly political. The shirt just says welcome — who could object to that? Only someone in the grips of xenophobia, which is what we hope to dissolve.

SSP:  I see on your website that you can opt to “buy one forward”. I love this idea, can you tell us more about this and why it is important to your cause?

This was Justin’s excellent idea. “Buying one forward” means you are paying the price of a shirt so that someone else can receive a shirt for free. This has allowed to give out shirts at rallies, such as the Yemeni bodega owners rally at Cadman Plaza. We’ve also given out shirts at Arab-owned businesses and to people who want to support the cause but cannot afford a shirt.

SSP: I understand that this is a non-profit project. Where are the proceeds going?

The first $1000 we raised is being donated to the Arab American Association of New York. All proceeds beyond that (we’ve raised close to $4000 so far) are being donated in equal parts to AANY, the IRC (International Refugee Council) and Immigrant Justice Corps, an organization that provides legal assistance for immigrants.

SSP: How has the response been so far? In addition to purchasing the shirts, how do we help get the word out and support this cause?

The response has been phenomenal. We’ve sold over 800 shirts across the country. You can see a map of where people have purchased shirts on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bksolidaritees . The next step of our project, now that many people have received their shirts and have been wearing them for a few weeks, is for people to start sharing their stories. Our hope is to create a Humans of NY-style account of people’s stories wearing these shirts across the country. We hope the conversation will spark into one that allows for understanding and acceptance. I firmly believe that people’s xenophobia is rooted in unfamiliarity; it’s easy to project when the issue is abstract. But when you’re talking about real people and real conversations, difference often melt away and people’s common humanity emerges. That’s the hope, at least. The best way to support the project is to tell friends and family about it across the country. Tell them to visit our facebook page and take a picture of themselves wearing our shirt! There’s already quite the gallery in the making at www.soldiaritees.org/photos — we recently had someone take a picture in front of the White House!

https://www.solidaritees.org/

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Things to do this Winter!

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Let’s all agree, this isn’t the most lively time of the year.  It’s cold, the excitement of the holidays is over, and the Spring seems so far away in the distance.  The sun, if it’s out, isn’t warming us as much as we want it to.  The playground is not usually the best option, unless we want to freeze and listen to our kids complain they are cold.  So…what do we do?  How about sampling some of the best hot chocolate NYC has to offer…or try out some origami?   Here are ideas which are fun for ALL of us (parents included)!

If you’d like to stay warm indoors…

* Try out the best hot chocolates Park Slope has to offer…Le Pain de Quotidien on 5th Ave let’s your child swirl the dark chocolate syrup into the frothy milk themselves (what kid doesn’t LOVE to mix everything)!  There’s also The Chocolate Room and Colson Patisserie, both serve up a yummy cup of chocolate goodness.

* Check out the Brooklyn Children’s Museum pop-up exhibit, Industry City, at 274 36th Street in Sunset Park.  Through February 26th you’ll be able to check out an interactive art exhibit, which will ask kids what it takes to create a happy and healthy neighborhood.  There are interactive programs for families with children 1-8 YO. Thurs-Sun.  Free!  

* Go to a book reading at Powerhouse or Barnes and Noble in the Slope! 

* Try your luck at bowling at Melody Lanes in Sunset Park or Family Bowl on Saturdays at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg.  A major draw for Brooklyn Bowl is that you can enjoy some of the best fried chicken around, brought to you by Blue Ribbon.  It’s SO good.

* Get crafty at Taro’s Origami Studio at 95 7th Avenue, between Union and President.  Follow directions on touch-screen tablets (fun for the little ones) or learn from the staff.  Make your origami flowers, spaceship or whatever you choose – and decorate with stamps and paint!  

* Check out a new puppet show at Puppetworks, right here in our hood of Park Slope.  Through April 9th, Puss in Boots will be performed!  Based on Charles Perrault’s 1697 French Fantasy, with an original score.

* Get that energy out at Bounce U, about a fifteen minute drive from Park Slope on 67th St and 9th Ave.  $16 per kid, reservation required (remember to bring socks).   There is a “preschool playdate” for kids 7 and under:  

* How about a little culture to brighten up that dreary cold day?  BAM offers theater and film with kids in mind.   On February 19th at 2pm check out a matinee of “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown” about Charlie Brown and the gang traveling to Europe for fun and adventure.  And for a live theatrical performance, check out Do Not Disturb (2/11-2/12), about factory workers assembling a giant wheel – combining dance, physical theater and a clown!  Ages 6+.

If you want to brave it and have fun outdoors…

* The Prospect Park Zoo is open year-round!  You can go celebrate the “Year of the Rooster” 2/11 – 2/12 from 11am-4pm.  There will be puppet performances, a scavenger hunt, fortune cookies and a calligraphy workshop!  

* Also in Prospect Park, go ice skating at the Lefrak Center at Lakeside!  There’s even a skate school and a hockey program if your child is interested.   Grab a hot beverage after at the cafe!  

* The next time it snows, have a plan as to where you are going to sled!  There of course is the big hill at 9th street in Prospect Park, but there are other spots in Fort Greene and Bay Ridge.  Check this list for top sledding spots in NYC.

SSP Core Value # 7: Be Humble

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We are thrilled to share with you our Culture, Values and Promises. We want to make sure you understand what we stand for and what we promise to offer you.

So, first a little HISTORY:

Dr. Cao and Matteo opened South Slope Pediatrics in July of 2012 with the goal of offering a different patient/doctor experience and contributing to the growth of the local community.

 

OUR PURPOSE AND EVERYDAY GOALS:

At SSP we value relationships. Building strong relationships between patients, doctors and team members is at the center of our purpose and focus. We want to make sure that when you call us, come visit us or communicate with us in any way (email, social, verbal, etc.), you know that you are HOME and that we are here for YOU.

Our mission is to give you the best experience of your day. We are here to help you and most of the time we will go above and beyond what’s required or expected to do so. Our goal is to establish a strong and trusted relationship with you.

 

OUR PROMISES:

We promise to always LISTEN, be KIND, be HUMBLE and to be HELPFUL.

 

We simply ask you to reciprocate so we can work on creating a strong relationship based on trust and open communication.
 

OUR CORE VALUES:

Your SSP Team has established a set of 10 Core Values that we base our behavior and decisions upon. Every month we will unveil 1 core value to you and discuss it at the office and via social media.

We encourage questions about our values and we would love to hear your side of the story as well. Engage with your SSP team members when you see them and ask questions.

 

The February 2017 Core Value is:

BE HUMBLE

(Core Value #7).

Here is what we mean:

“At SSP we believe that no matter what happens, we should always be respectful of everyone.  While we celebrate our individual and team successes, we are not arrogant nor do we treat others differently from how we would want to be treated.”

Please send us your thoughts, questions or stories about being humble.We would love to collect them for our Culture Book and for our social media stories.

Yours,

Dr. Cao and the South Slope Pediatrics Team

Interview with Speech Pathologist, Rachel Cortese

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According to the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring, approximately 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder and around 1 in 6 children in the US have a developmental disability.   It’s critical for these children to have a strong support system in place, and that the child’s parents and caregivers be equipped with the proper tools as to how to best interact and communicate with their child.   Here is where Rachel Cortese, one of the awesome South Slope Pediatrics moms, comes into play.

Rachel is a renowned Speech Language Pathologist based out of Brooklyn with over 12 years of experience. This February she is introducing a parent-based intervention program for parents of children with Autism Spectrum and Social Communication Disorders at Brooklyn College, which will help provide parents with the tools they need.   Let’s get to know her and learn about her invaluable program in this month’s interview!

 

SSP:   Before we dive into this program you are launching, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and what it is that you specialize in?  

 

Sure! I live in Brooklyn with my husband and two sons. I am a pediatric speech language pathologist and behavioral therapist. I work with families in Brooklyn, Manhattan and East Hampton, NY. My expertise is in the evaluation and treatment of toddlers with delayed language development, children with stuttering disorders and speech sound disorders, and communication impairments associated with autism.

In terms of my training, I completed a Masters in Communication Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and obtained a Masters degree in elementary education from St. Joseph’s University. I am currently working toward board certification as a Behavior Analyst and have completed advanced trainings in PROMPT, a specialized technique used to facilitate oral motor skills and to remediate speech production disorders, The Lidcombe program, an early intervention behavior based treatment program designed for preschool children who stutter, and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2), a standardized observation designed to assess behaviors related to autism spectrum disorders.

Prior to studying Speech and Language Therapy, I taught Middle School Mathematics for two years in Philadelphia as a Teach for America corps member. I am passionate about the outdoors and taught adaptive skiing to people with disabilities at The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center in Colorado, and worked as a field guide at wilderness therapy programs helping teenagers who struggled with a variety of behavioral and emotional issues.

 

SSP: What is it about being a speech language pathologist that you are the most passionate about, and why did you choose to focus on this field and specialty?

 

Any parent can attest to the magic of watching their child learn new things and acquire new skills during their first few years of life. Speech and language is one of the first windows we have into the brain and the learning process. I’ve always been fascinated by this process and now as a mom of two young boys, “on the job training” has a whole new meaning!

Even though I have chosen to focus on the study of speech and language development, language doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is influenced by so many other things (a child’s attention, learning, temperament and environment to name a few). I work alongside and am always learning from brilliant colleagues who specialize in different aspects of child development and I get to wear so many different hats as I work to facilitate speech, language and behavior changes in a naturalistic and well-coordinated manner.

I am most passionate about the intersection between language development and behavior. Effective communication skills are central to a child’s overall wellbeing and when children don’t have a way to express themselves effectively or efficiently, frustration can set the stage for maladaptive behaviors. Although I see children of all ages (birth to seventeen), I find the early developmental period most interesting and ripe for change. I specialize in helping parents learn strategies to successfully shape their child’s communication and behavior skills.

 

SSP: What are some of the more common speech issues you encounter with kids on the spectrum and other social communication disorders?

 

Since no two children with a diagnosis of ASD or social communication disorders are alike, this a difficult question to answer. Some children have significant difficulties with speech production and expressive language and other children with ASD demonstrate advanced speech and language skills. However, although this will look different for every child, one thing that these children tend to have in common is some level of difficulty initiating interactions with others, staying in an interaction with others and difficulty with other aspects of social communication like turn taking or playing appropriately with others.

 

SSP: Let’s talk about the program you are launching February 9th, “More Than Words – the Hanen Program for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”.   What is this program and who is it for?

 

More Than Words® — The Hanen Program for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder®, is an evidence-based, twelve-week, program for parents and caregivers of young children (ages birth to six) with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Social Communication Disorders. In a small group setting, parents and caregivers will learn skills to enhance back-and-forth interactions with their children, help improve their children’s social skills and their understanding of language.

The More Than Words® program consists of three individual family sessions and nine small group, parent/caregiver only, training sessions. By the end of the program, parents will know what to say and what to do to be their child’s most important communication teacher. The strategies will become a natural part of the way parents interact with their child.

During the 8 group sessions families will learn step-by-step, how to:

  1. Recognize their child’s stage and style of communication so that they know which steps to take next
  2. Identify what motivates their child to interact with them
  3. Adjust everyday routines to help their child take turns and keep interactions going
  4. Follow their child’s lead to encourage him or her to take turns in an interaction and communicate
  5. Implement strategies in their everyday interactions to help their child understand language
  6. Tweak the way they play and read books with their child to help him or her learn language.
  7. Learn to foster longer, more meaningful interactions and improved social skills

 

SSP: It seems like this is not only an opportunity for parents and caregivers to learn how to make their interactions with these children the most meaningful they can be, but it’s also a chance for them to meet and connect with other families struggling with similar experiences. Do you find parents and caregivers often are lacking the support they need and perhaps feel a bit of isolation?

 

Absolutely. Parents who have previously participated in this program report that one of the greatest benefits of the More Than Words Program is the opportunity it provides to connect with other parents. Parents and caregivers will meet other families in the same situations and will have an opportunity to share experiences, learn from each other and hopefully make new friends with other families who understand their unique challenges.

 

SSP: In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit for those that take part in this 12 week program?

 

Besides the connection with other families, the More Than Words program was developed by expert speech-language pathologists and is grounded in extensive research. The strategies parents will learn can be used naturally, throughout every interaction with their child. Since parents spend the most time with their child, this type of intervention can be way more effective than taking your child to speech therapy once, twice or three times per week. Actually research has shown that trained parents are more effective facilitators of communication development than weekly visits to a professional.

 

SSP: Is there a website one can go to for more information on this program? For those who cannot attend, what do you suggest they do?

 

Yes! For families who want to learn more about the upcoming program at Brooklyn College, they can check out the program details on my website:  http://rachelcortese.com/parent-training/parents-of-children-with-autism-spectrum-disorder/.  Families are also encouraged to contact me directly by email or by phone for more information and for registration information.  My contact information is on my website and below.

For families who can’t attend, I’d encourage them to visit my website to learn more about the individual services I offer or to set up an individual consultation.
The Hanen Centre’s website also has a ton of amazing articles and accessible information for families. The Hanen Centre was founded in 1975 and is a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization whose mission is to provide parents, caregivers, early childhood educators and Speech-language Pathologists/ Therapists with the knowledge and training they need to help young children develop the best possible language, social and literacy skills.

 

SSP: Do you have any words of encouragement for those families who have a child with autism or another social communication disorder?

 

Many parents worry about what will become of their children, and when you have a child who has unique and special needs, it’s only natural to wonder about this. While none of us can predict exactly what the future holds, the good news is that the brain is plastic and has the ability to change structurally. This means that children continue to learn throughout the lifespan and research has shown that intensive, early intervention has can “re-wire” the brain. When parents learn strategies and learn to implement them consistently and effectively, they can successfully shape their child’s communication skills, positively affect parent-child interactions, and facilitate behavior changes.

 

Place: All sessions will be held at The Diana Rogovin Davidow Speech, Language, Hearing Center, 4400 Boylan Hall, Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210

 

Cost: $150 per family for the entire 12 week program

For registration and more information please contact:

Rachel Cortese, MS Ed, MS CCC-SLP

Email: Rachel.Cortese@brooklyn.cuny.edu

Phone: (347) 471-0596

Kindness and Love: What These 2 Words Mean to Our Children

As we enter the year of 2017, we have never been surrounded by so many troubling world events. It’s impossible to escape – we’re being hammered with it on social media, TV, radio, and throughout our daily discussions with friends and family.   There is no time more important than NOW to focus on the GOOD in the world, reminding ourselves to always be kind and loving… and we must all work hard together to spread that love around.

How do we do that?  A great place to start is with our children.  Let’s talk to our children about what is important in this life, and that is KINDNESS and LOVE.  Have you wondered what these words mean to them?

Pure, honest and innocent, they speak from their hearts without any hesitation or inhibitions.  Let’s hear what these two words mean from their own mouths, and let these words of wisdom give us all a little hope and inspiration.

What Does Kindness Mean to You?

– Being a good person to your family, and taking care of them when they are sick or feeling sad.  If someone is having a bad day, be extra nice to them and don’t bother them – Parker, 7

– Kindness is being nice to a friend, especially if someone is playing alone.  Never make fun of someone and share your food – Cameron, 9

– To be kind means to standing up for someone and care for them and generally be there for them – Celia, 6th grader

– Being kind means standing up for one another, helping each other and taking care of each other – Kira, 4th grader

– To be kind is to have respect – Stephen, 4th grader

– Kind means to be nice to someone – Joseph, 1st grader

– To respect others, show how much you love them and helping others who need help – Kailei, 4th grader

– To be kind means not to be mean to people – Anonymous, 4th grader

– Kind means loving, treating others with respect – Anonymous, 4th grader

– Be nice to others, help and be happy and helpful – Owen, 11

– Kindness means to help others and to forgive and forget and be nice to others – Peyton, 9

– That you don’t be mean and say hurtful things – Finn, 6

– When you feed me – Dylan, 3

– It helps love get around the world – Damon, 9

– Kindness is you need to treat people good – Harper, 5

– Being nice to everyone you know – Avery, 5

– When you’re being kind to someone you’re being nice to them and you’re being their friend – Val, 8

– When you’re being nice to someone – Ellie, 8

– Giving kisses and hugs and being nice – Emmett, 3

– Kindness is doing what you know is right to make other people happy – Evan, 11

– Be kind – Juno, 4

– Being nice and thoughtful – Nina, 7

– When you’re being nice and helping – Amaya, 4

– Being friends with someone – Cole, 6

– Kindness is helping someone – Isaac, 8

– Being calm, nice and giving kisses to someone – Alina, 4

– To make someone who is sad – make them happy, and you’re kind hearted-  like you’re being nice to someone and they really appreciate it and they’ll be nice to you – Anonymous, 4th grader

What Does Love Mean to You?

– Love is always telling someone you love them more.  If someone looks like they had a bad day, give them a long hug  that usually cheers them up!   Love is also making something for them, not buying a gift.   I think that shows a lot of love – Parker, 7

– Love is doing what you don’t really want to do because you know that person wants to do that, like I don’t always want to play UNO but I know that my sister does so I do it to make her happy  – Cameron, 9

– Having appreciation for people – Celia, 6th grader

– Love means being there, hugs, kisses, fully being there and helping them. To be present and visible – Kira, 4th grader

– Love is what you feel when you really care about someone – Stephen, 4th grader

– Love means when you care for people so much – Joseph, 1st grader

– Love means helping others around you, sharing and keeping others safe and comfortable – Kailei, 4th grader

– Love is when you really care for somebody or something –  Anonymous, 4th grader

– Love is honesty, friendship, happiness and helpfulness – Anonymous, 4th grader

– It keeps people together and makes people happy – Owen, 11

– It means it makes happiness and makes a happy thought – Peyton, 9

– It’s happiness in your heart and you have it in your body – Finn, 6

– When you feed me more –  Dylan, 3

– Love makes the world go around – Damon, 9

– Kissing – Mia, 4

– Family – Victor, 11

– People loving people – Harper, 5

– Liking someone but a lot – Avery, 5

– Love is about friendship and being nice and hugs and kisses – Ava, 5

– When you love someone you want to take care of them and if they’re sick you want to help them –  Val, 8

– When you treat something or someone nicely and when you like them – Ellie, 8

– Pancakes – Luke, 4

– Giving kisses – Emmett, 3

Something really enjoyable or someone that you look forward to seeing – Evan, 11

– I love you, to love everybody – Juno, 4

– Loving, sharing and caring – Nina, 7

– I love you – Amaya, 4

– Love is taking care of someone and marrying them – Cole, 6

– Love is family – Isaac, 8

– Love is mommy and daddy, God and friends – Alina, 4

– Caring for someone else – Tessa, 8

– When you love someone you feel happy inside and very comfortable with them inside – Anonymous, 4th grader

“The best portion of a good person’s life are their little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love”. – William Wadsworth

Interview with Matteo Trisolini, a “Superdad”, a Culture Revolutionary and Co-Founder of SSP!

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We all know Matteo as the “papa” at South Slope Pediatrics, taking care of everyone on the SSP team.  Matteo is involved in all aspects of the practice – if you’re lucky he will greet you when you call and you’ll hear his charming Italian accent!   He has helped South Slope Pediatrics become fully integrated into the South Slope community, while at the same time building community within the practice itself.  Matteo has developed classes to help support our families, from breast feeding to CPR to children’s nutrition and more.  He has become a pioneer of charitable causes, supporting both local and national charities, even launching the Love in a Safety Pin Campaign, supporting tolerance, love and kindness.  He’s the Culture Director at SSP, committed to establishing and embracing core values we hold dear.  Just when you think he does it all – did you know he’s also a super talented photographer and artist?  He’s also a social media guru!  What does Matteo NOT do?   Let’s get to know the man behind the practice in this month’s interview!!!

Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood, growing up on the coast of Italy and how your journey brought you to NYC?

I was born in Bari, Italy. Bari is a small city on the coast of Puglia.  I was basically born and raised on the beach, so that is the culture I have.  Culture of family first.   Everyone there has lunch, dinner, every single meal at the table together as a family.  In my family I’m the only crazy one who at one point decided I couldn’t see myself living there.  So, I decided to pursue other options.  Initially in 1996 my mom and dad celebrated their 25th anniversary and they took us on a vacation to the US to celebrate.   When we landed in NY I could not forget the moment I put my feet on the ground and said “Wow, this is real.  This is not the movies.  This is real”!  As soon as I did that I realized that I felt like I was home,  a completely real and unexpected feeling at 22 years old.   It was incredible and weird.  So, with that – that trip opened up my eyes to new possibilities.  At that time I was studying marketing and management in Italy.  I decided to do whatever I could to live in the US as the US would be able to offer me more opportunities than I could get in Italy.  I also wanted to transition from marketing and management to photography.  I fell in love with being creative as a small child.  I looked into the Fashion Institute of Technology – but at that time the cost of school was impossible.   $21k plus boarding and everything else.   I didn’t have any of that.  Our family had spent everything on our trip to the US so there was no way to do it.  I had to look into a different way to make it happen. I found the University in Milan that only cost $5k a year, which I could afford, and it had an exchange program with the School of Visual Arts.  The exchange program was on a scholarship basis, and only one student could be awarded that scholarship each year.  By the end of 2nd year I won the scholarship and spent six months at the School of Visual Arts.

I went there for the beginning of my 3rd year, spending 6 months, and never wanting to come back.  I had no money….I had just enough money for my bagel and cream cheese in the morning and Wendy’s for my lunch.  That was all I could afford.  My family is not wealthy, but they did an amazing with my brother and myself.  Taught us that you have to go get it and make it happen!  Soon, my photography would start to help pay my rent.  From there I had to graduate in Milan.  While on scholarship in NYC I found a sponsor that would help me come back and work as a photographer.  That was back when there were no wrinkles on my face!

Not many people know that you are also a talented artist, and a very successful fashion photographer, eventually founding Matteo Trisolini Studios.   Can you tell us more about this prior life of yours?   I understand you even designed concepts for Grammy Award nominees!

Basically after graduating I told my mom that I’m leaving Milan and going to the US.  Of course she said “you’ll be back within 3 months”.  17 years ago I arrived in the US,  the year before 9/11.  I was able to thrive as a photographer working for Simon and Schuster doing covers for their books, magazines and commercial advertising.  It was a different NY. A NY were there were no limits on budgets, there were cash advances…the creativity was incredible. People who knew what they were doing and had culture in visual communication were still working and there was an incredible energy.  When I founded Matteo Trisolini Studios, I had a studio in Chelsea, on 25th between 10th and 11th.  I miss that energy.    Then…I met Dr. Cao.

How did your life take the turn to healthcare, and starting the practice we have all come to love?  How has becoming a parent affected this choice?

I met Dr. Cao when he had just started working as an attending doctor at Methodist Hospital.  He was done with residency.  That is a big deal, as during residency you do not have time for a social life and cannot settle down.  So he was done with that and had been working for a year and half as an attending doctor at Methodist.  We actually met because we lived in the same building in Battery Park. We both had gotten into this building because of the grants after 9/11.  We were both able to live in this beautiful landmark building.  We were also coincidentally playing volleyball in a gay volleyball league.  We didn’t know this until one time we saw each other in the building as we were on our way to volleyball.  We didn’t know we lived in the same building.   We didn’t know we played in the same league until that morning.  That morning in this big grand hall with big arches – he looked at me and because of what i was wearing and my mohawk….he asked if I was going to play volleyball in the league.  That was the beginning.

From there, we were married and had Isabella.  That’s when I transitioned. When I had her I realized I had to make a choice.  I could still be a photographer in the fashion industry.  In order to be successful in that industry you have to have a big ego. That also means not a lot of family time, and having to go to parties, travel here and there, working weekends and surrounded by a certain type of people.  I made a decision to put on the brakes until Isabella was about 16 months. When I was ready to go back to work, I decided that I wanted to be behind the scenes instead of at the front.  Still working in the photography industry but as a producer.  With this in mind, I was putting my resume together when Hai said that he always wanted to open his own practice.  He said “If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.  Do you want to do this together”?  I said OK!  I had zero experience in healthcare but did have experience creating a business from the ground up, and running a business marketing wise. I knew what he wanted to be seen as – not a big doctor with a big fancy office and five thousand locations…but a small town doctor.  That is what we first told everybody.  You will always have a chance to see your doctor.  It’s nice to see people and know their names and remember their names.  The fact that they know that I’m married to him and this is our family business.  It’s very unique.  From the very beginning our motto was “Family First” and when people try to take us down, we said: let’s put our heads down, think about what we want to accomplish and what we want to give our patients.  Let’s focus on all the good we can give to anyone we interact with, one patient at a time.  This is still a rule that applies today.  We have a lot more patients and attention that we used to have – but the message is still here.  Think about what good things you are accomplishing every day with our patients, and always giving them the greatest experience of their day.  That’s our goal.  Always go above and beyond to help and give them the most pleasant experience of their day.

Having Isabella helped me understand being successful in the arts wasn’t so important to me,  because that was all about me.  When you have a child you exist but it’s not all about you anymore.  This venture was more about making it about me AND my family.  Having a family and staying in the fashion/commercial photography industry didn’t work together for me.  Family comes first, then everything else.  I learned that when having Isabella.

We all love South Slope Pediatrics for many reasons.  It has that old-school “small town” doctor feel.   Parents develop real and trusting  relationships with the doctors.  How do you maintain this close-knit environment in a fast paced city like Brooklyn?

We invest so much time and energy on this.  This is why company culture, which is something we work on every day, is really important.  We have to walk the walk.  We are not interested in opening many locations nationwide. This is not who we are.  We opened this office in 2012 because Dr. Cao wanted to focus on building relationships.  Still to this day building relationships is the most important thing.  Relationships are not only between the doctor and patient.  It’s between anyone on this team and anyone else.  It is between two SSP members. Between any SSP member and a patient – whether face to face, on the phone, on email or on social media.  With any encounter we focus on that relationship.  We promise that we are here to listen and we promise to always be kind to you.  We promise that we will always be helpful and we will always strive to go above and beyond what is expected and required.  Patients know that when they call they don’t need to scream at anyone.  They know they can count on us listening to them and helping them.  That is very important.

The trick is that we ask each individual on any media to reciprocate that behavior. To be kind, to be helpful, to listen and be humble so we can establish that relationship with them.  When you have a baby you go to the pediatrician in the 1st few years a lot.  When you come here, you should feel like we are your extended family and you are home.  We are here to help you.

The close relationship with the practice is not only experienced at doctor appointments.  You offer ongoing support for the parents, offering free courses in the office and sharing helpful and engaging articles and posts on social media.  Why do you think this is so important?

When I had isabella in 2010 I was a first time parent.  Dr. Cao went back to work right away.  I was home with Isabella, and as you might know – that can be both the most fantastic and also the most isolating thing that can happen to you, especially true if you don’t have family around and your close friends are working.  It was wintertime, and it was a hard winter.  I didn’t go out, and I didn’t have a network.  I’m hoping today it’s different but at that time there weren’t any daddy groups, only mommy groups.   It’s very hard to make connections and do something social.  By the time my husband was home at night, I wanted him to take the baby.  “Let me sleep”!  I would say.  Social interaction was so difficult to find.  When we opened the office we thought it would be great to help bring our families together.  Maybe we can help them go get a coffee together, start new friendships.  Two main goals of the classes we offer are to provide tools to new parents that they wouldn’t necessarily acquire during the doctor visit (CPR for example), and the 2nd goal is to get people together with the same age children and understand they are not alone, and what they are experiencing is normal.  You can go crazy when your 2 month old is screaming at you.  Then you see that mom or that dad is going through the same thing!  We offer the skill and let them get to know each other, building community in a small but important way.

As for social media, that is today’s hangout.  It’s the new park or where you go with your stroller. It’s where we meet together.  You want to provide a service to your patients in any way you can.  It’s a new way to reach out.  It’s not a place to answer medical questions, but we can offer tools, advice or stories where we can all connect.

Another reason we love SSP is how the practice goes BEYOND just being a doctor’s office.  You are fully committed to the South Slope community, from ongoing fundraising for Jonah’s Just Begun to supporting our local schools.   Can you please tell us more about what SSP does here in the Slope?

First of all, we would like to do more than what we do.  With a small office, it’s not always easy to coordinate and to deliver.  Its most important that you pick what you do well and do that thing well.  We want to do it the right way.  There are some organizations that we work with, like Jonah’s Just Begun,  which is close to our hearts.  Jonah has been a patient of Dr. Cao’s since he was just one year old.  Dr. Cao helped in diagnosing him, and we want to always continue to support him in any way we can.  The schools are important as that helps our children have more tools in their hands.  There are other projects that I’d like to tackle and local organizations that help kids who aren’t as lucky as our kids.  I hope that we are able to get involved with more projects soon.   We are here to create community, it all goes back to the fact that we are part of the community and want to help it grow.

Your email signature says “Father and Culture Revolutionary“.  Can you please explain what “culture revolutionary” means to you?

Everyone here on the SSP team has in their email signature who they are (mother or father for example).  Most of us are parents.   We always say who we are first.   Then, the second part is what we are passionate about.  For me, it’s being a culture revolutionary.  I’m interested in culture.  I am a revolutionary because I understand there is a need to express who you are and what you believe in as an individual and as a company.  Company culture is a relatively new concept.  Let me give you an example.  At SSP we come together as a team and share core values.   We have a set of 10 values that we share, being humble being one of them.  It’s something we all believe in and can relate to.  We follow this every day, being on the phone scheduling appointments or helping someone who wants to transfer with an insurance we are not contracted with.  We help them find a new doctor within their insurance.  I’ve always been interested in investing in the people that make SSP.  Everyone who works here understands that  no one works FOR someone, but that we all work WITH someone.  It’s important that our team members are happy.  You can’t deliver a great experience if your team members are not having a great experience.  It’s something everyone here understands and appreciates.  It’s how we are able to go above and beyond in our day to day.  I pushed myself to save money and attend the @Zappos culture camp last year.  When I sat in that room for those 3 days I felt at home.  They spoke my language. They helped give me the tools for what I needed to accomplish.  I’ve been incorporating what I’ve learned here.  We have a culture team at SSP that makes sure our culture is clear to everyone who works here, our patients who come here, and anyone who is interested in joining our family.

I think the great love and compassion you show the South Slope Pediatrics families starts with the love you have at home with Dr. Cao and your beautiful daughter.  Any words of advice to all of us, trying to be as hopeful and positive as we can when looking at the new year? 

We know that we might be looking at difficult times ahead but we also need to focus on the good that we do every day, one person at a time. That’s how you continue, not listening to the noise around you.  Focus on the good that you do, one person at a time, every day – then you don’t lose the focus.

 

 

 

Things to Do on Holiday Break with our Families!

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It’s that wonderful time of year where many of us are so lucky to be able to spend more time with our families.  With school closed, we have to keep both us and our children busy with fun and engaging activities.  This gives us a chance to do things we otherwise might not have time to do – like baking, doing charity work and fun craft projects.  If we’re lucky enough, perhaps we’ll see a little powder and be able to enjoy sledding on the 9th Street hill in Prospect Park!

Here are a few ideas to keep you all busy during this time of year.

1) Cooking & Baking:

* We recently updated our Pinterest Page with several festive meals, snacks and sweets that are kid-friendly (some are even healthy)!!!  Who knows…maybe if you dress up your veggies to look like a Christmas tree, your child will want to eat them?!   It’s worth a shot!  https://www.pinterest.com/drcaoparkslope/fun-holiday-recipes/   

* Here is a link to fruit-filled holiday dessert recipes that your child can help you with, and doesn’t require the use of an oven:  http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Fruit-Filled-Holiday-Desserts-42609490#photo-42609527

* For non-holiday themed recipes that are great year-round, I love the recipes in Pretend Soup and Salad People, both which are for preschoolers and up.  The popovers are a huge hit in this house!

2) Charity Work:  We recently shared a blog about the different charities we can get involved with in the NYC area (http://www.southslopepediatrics.com/blog/giving/).  Now we’d like to share the charities that South Slope Pediatrics is working with, in hopes that we can get our SSP families involved in as well.  This is a great way to teach our children about how this season is about giving and helping others!

* Jonah’s Just Begun:   Dr. Cao’s best little friend Jonah is suffering from a very rare disease, San Filippo Syndrome, and needs our help to fund research to save his life.  Let’s help raise money to find a cure!!!  Donate here:  https://app.mobilecause.com/form/vCJQEw

* Toys for Tots:  We have a box out in our lobby and are collecting all new toys and books, which will be given to children in need.  This cause is very special to Dr. Cao as they helped his own family when he was a child.  Please come by and make a donation if you can!

* Little Essentials:  We will also have a box in our lobby for Little Essentials, a Brooklyn based charity who helps children living in poverty by providing urgently needed resources and parenting education to families in crisis.  Please stop by with any new book or toy and help this local cause!

* Love in a Safety Pin:  Dr. Cao and your SSP Team has recently embarked in a courageous journey to ensure that our values of inclusion, tolerance, kindness and LOVE stay strong.    We have declared South Slope Pediatrics a safe haven for those who might find themselves harassed or bullied on the streets of Park Slope.  Please, join us by claiming your Love in a Safety Pin free sticker and by donating what you can to our campaign so we can produce and mail the stickers to the rest of the country.   Donate here:  https://www.gofundme.com/love-in-a-safety-pin

3) Crafts:   Looking for fun indoor activities during this cold weather that spark a bit of creativity?   Here are links to easier crafts that the smaller ones can get into:

http://www.parenting.com/gallery/christmas-crafts-kids  From felt snowmen to deer made of cardboard to traditional cut-out snowflakes, there are plenty of crafts on this list (26 in total)!

http://mylifeandkids.com/25-fun-easy-holiday-crafts-kids/  25 holiday crafts including fingerprint christmas lights, santa beards, santa slime and shredded paper snowmen!

http://www.emmaowl.com/reindeer-footprint-christmas-cards-all-you-need-is-a-shiny-nose/#_a5y_p=4586085  Footprint Reindeer Cards…genius.

http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2013/11/shivery-snow-paint-recipe.html  Icy Cold Snow Paint – this looks like a lot of (messy) fun!

http://handsonaswegrow.com/28-winter-crafts-kids/  Handprint penguins, puffy paint polar bear faces and snowy owl pine cones are a few of the 28 winter crafts you can try.

And…let’s just say you’re exhausted from all of these activities and you need a little down time.  Maybe a holiday show is a way to relax and cuddle with our little ones!  Here are a few favorites for kids 3 and up:

* A Charlie Brown Christmas

* Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

* Frosty the Snowman

* Lights: The Miracle of Chanukah

* Merry Christmas, Olivia

* Curious George, a Very Monkey Christmas

* Mickey’s Christmas Carol

* Shalom, Sesame: Chanukah Special

* Dora’s Christmas Carol

* Elmo’s Christmas Countdown

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!

Interview with the Renowned Artist and Native New Yorker, Ida Pearle

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We are so very honored to interview Ida Pearle this month, a mother and patient of Dr. Cao’s, as well as a highly accomplished and renowned artist, writer (and violinist)!   Her artwork is both comforting and inspiring, beautifully depicting movement and capturing the innocence and magic of childhood.  Her first book, A Child’s Day: An Alphabet of Play was chosen as a best children’s book of 2008 by Bank Street College, and her newest title just released last year, The Moon is Going to Addy’s House, is an American Library Association Notable book and has received exceptional reviews.    Make sure to keep your eyes open at your next visit…her incredible artwork is about to grace the walls of South Slope Pediatric’s lobby!

SSP: Can you please tell us a bit about your background growing up in NYC and how the culture helped shape you as an artist and as an author?

I recently published a book about my childhood in New York called “The Moon is Going to Addy’s House”. It’s about a car ride from city to country that I took every weekend as a child.  I spent 5 years creating it, which was a wonderful opportunity to meditate and reflect on my New York city childhood and it’s richness.  I feel very attached and connected to my childhood places, be they neighborhoods or homes. I grew up in New York- late 70s/80s it was a very different place; my experience was a much more bohemian one than is possible today I think. My father was a sound engineer, and had a recording studio in our loft, and my mother was a painter.  I was surrounded by people creating constantly and my identity as an “artist” already strongly formed in childhood. My parents protected my free time and made sure I always had paper and pencil. I spent a lot of time as a child at the city’s art museums, The Met and The MoMA, and had access to tons of visual material, like my own large collection of children’s books and my mother’s art monographs. My parents were incredibly encouraging and really made art the center of my universe. In this way my focus today is very much a continuation of what it was in childhood, and my work is very much the blossoming of seeds planted in my childhood. The other lucky thing that plants my work geographically in New York was my going to the United Nations International School as a child. New York is already an incredibly diverse place, but UNIS was even more of a microcosm- every student hailed from a different country and that experience more than anything has informed my aesthetic. I aim to create inclusive imagery and a diverse representation of children. My commitment to celebrating the beauty of diversity is rooted in my experience as a child in playing with children who were different from me. Celebrating our common humanity is something I like to think we are especially good at doing as New Yorkers.

SSP: Who were your favorite illustrators and authors as a child, and how did they influence you?

Growing up I loved Robert McClosky, Ezra Jack Keats, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Ludwig Bemelmans, Leo Lionni and Maurice Sendek of course. I think a few on this list were incredible draftsman- like Robert McClosky and  Nancy Ekholm Burkert, who also made work outside of the tradition of children’s literature. I think perhaps Ezra Jack Keats and Leo Lionni have influenced my work more directly in terms of simplifying forms in my own work (as well my our medium – cut paper) I think children are attracted to that simplification, and I have always been attracted to minimalism. It takes a lot more mastery of form to pare things down to their most essential.

SSP: As a creator of fine art for children, what mediums do you use? How would you describe your work?

My work is originally created in cut paper collage. I use a lot of drawing to produce the imagery- but then it all has to be cut out with an exacto knife and glued together.  I suppose I would describe my work as being about gesture, movement, and pattern. I’m very interested in the human form, how it moves through space, and the challenges of depicting that on a flat plane. It’s very interesting to have to create something from nothing and to have it convince the eye of something very specific, like weight, volume and/or velocity. I think there is a magic in art- the marriage of technique and imagination which transports you to a place beyond the page. Thematically, I aim to capture the happy and care free nature of childhood, and to create images where all children see themselves represented.

SSP: I understand you do unique customized pieces of artwork in addition to fine art prints – can you please tell us more about that?

I love to create collages for children and families’s homes. Mostly these pieces are bespoke and one of a kind. I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years and I’ve gotten to hear how these pieces have become special family keepsakes that are treasured for a long time- which makes me very happy! It’s a very special process getting to know and depict a family through creating an art work for them! I treasure these experiences.

SSP: Your most recent book, The Moon is Going to Addy’s House, has received such incredible high praise. To quote Martin Scorcese, “The Moon is Going to Addy’s House is visual storytelling at its very best. The emotional journey of the children is beautifully expressed through Ida Pearle’s stunning use of collage, color, texture, and movement”.  How do you think you are able to connect so strongly to the reader? 

Well, first of thank you.  I’m very honored by these words, to say the least. I had the great honor of teaching Scorsese’s daughter private art lessons for 6 years, which is how he and his family came to know my book. I think the subject matter is highly relatable – how the moon follows us at night is a universal experience, and I think the visual part – the illustrations probably have as much if not more to do with how people consume this book in particular. I think children’s books are just as much about the pictures as they are about the story. We are visual thinkers first and foremost, we read in pictures before we read in words. Almost like hieroglyphs, they pick up on shapes and symbols first. There is a pictorial language that children react to and apply to their understanding of what is outside the page. I tried with Addy’s House to create a world children could really beam themselves into and see their own experience reflected. It’s an early and important phenomenological experience which is why we see it so much in children’s literature.

SSP: There is a very special relationship between a child and the moon, I see it in my own personal experience daily with my 4 year old daughter who almost treats it as a friend or family member of hers. “Look, mama – the moon followed us”! as we drive home at night. You capture that innocence and joy so well. Does this mirror personal experiences of yours as a child?

Creating ‘The Moon Is Going to Addy’s House’ was deeply meaningful for me. It is based on a phrase I used to repeat as a child on car ride from city to county to a cottage that has been in my family since the 1940s. My father and uncle, city kids used to play there in the summer, as did myself and my sister. My family over the years agreed that this phrase, (or idea) would make a beautiful children’s story. Children’s literature was very important in my family life as a child..

My father became ill about 8 years ago, and told me he really wanted me to focus on bringing this book into being. So, I did. He passed away 6 years ago and the last conversation we had was about the book; he looked at my sketches and encouraged me – he was an incredible cheerleader for my work. It was my opportunity to meditate on my childhood, his loss and to try to transform pain into beauty, which I think is the tool that art is. It’s a healing act, creating or engaging with art of any kind.

SSP: How has having a daughter of your own affected your work?

After depicting childhood, and motherhood for so long it’s opened up another dimension of my practice to me. I understand a mother’s love for the first time, which is different from only understanding a child’s love. I haven’t had the chance yet to make much new work, but when I do- I know I will have a deeper connection and understanding of children, and of parental love.

To learn more about Ida Pearle and her work, go to: http://www.idapearle.com

 

FUN HOLIDAY EVENTS IN BROOKLYN & BEYOND!

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Check out these fun family events that will surely help get you into the holiday spirit.  From family-friendly holiday themed shows like The Nutcracker, Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas and a Charlie Brown’s Christmas Live…to train shows at Grand Central and the NY Botanical Garden…from an Ice Spectacular Show at  Lefrak to meet and greets with Santa himself right here on 5th Ave in Park Slope, there are many ways to celebrate and share the joy with our little ones!

* 15th Annual Holiday Train Show in Grand Central (Grand Central Station, Manhattan): November 14th – February 26th.  Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat and Sun 10am-6pm.  This year’s Holiday Train Show display will feature a 34-foot-long “O gauge” model train layout with Lionel’s model Metro-North, New York Central, and vintage subway trains running on eight separate loops of track, against a backdrop featuring graphics celebrating the Museum’s 40th anniversary by artist Julia Rothman.  http://www.grandcentralterminal.com/event/15th-annual-holiday-train-show/2145462112

* Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas (Vital Theatre, 152 W. 71st St):  November 19th – December 31st, Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 1pm.  Based on the NY Times bestselling picture book by Jane O’Connor.  What could be fancier than Christmas? Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles – and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Ooh la la! This year, Nancy is especially excited. After selling some of her old gowns and accessories, Nancy has enough money to buy a brand-new sparkly tree topper. She can’t wait to decorate the Christmas tree. But when things don’t turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?  http://fancynancychristmaslive.com/  1 hr long.

* Holiday Train Show (NY Botanical Gardens, Bronx): From November 19th – January 16th.  Enchanting model trains zip through a display of 150 landmarks, each re-created with bark, leaves, and other natural materials—all under the twinkling glow of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Marvel at G-scale locomotives humming along among familiar sights such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Rockefeller Center on nearly a half-mile of track.Explore a winter wonderland across our 250 acres with special tours, a cappela performances, Winter Harmonies Concerts, a poetry reading with recently named NYBG poet laureate, Billy Collins, and activities for kids.  http://www.nybg.org/hts16/

* Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (Manhattan): 9am on November 24th.  The annual pageant of giant balloons, floats, cheerleaders, clowns, marching bands, theater and Broadway in New York performances and celebs is one of the best NYC events in November. Read up here for recommended viewing areas:  https://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/events-festivals/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade

* Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar (501 Union, Gowanus): November 26th and 27th, 11am – 6pm.  Free admission.  Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar is a unique annual event that showcases the best of Brooklyn under one beautiful roof. The 4th edition will be packed with fine handmade goods, food, drinks, music, craft activities and more good times on Thanksgiving weekend.  http://brooklynholidaybazaar.com/

* Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting (Rockefeller Center, Manhattan): The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a world-wide symbol of the holidays in New York City. The 2016 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, November 30, with live performances from 7–9pm, at Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th and West 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.  https://www.rockefellercenter.com/whats-happening/2016/11/30/2016-rockefeller-center-christmas-tree-lighting/

* Charlie Brown Christmas Live (ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitewell Place, Brooklyn): Fri, Sat and Sun, Dec 2nd – 11th.   Performance of the classic Charlie Brown Christmas special word for word and gesture for gesture.  Jazz trio will play the iconic Vince Guaraldi score.  For show times and details, go to: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2698281

* Santa on 5th (several locations on 5th Ave, Park Slope on Dec 3rd, 10th and 17th): Ho ho ho!  Santa will be making appearances at 3 different locations on our very own 5th Ave during the month of September.  Eat, Drink and spend locally – while saying hi to our friend visiting from the North Pole!  Strolling carolers will be making an appearance as well.  http://parkslopefifthavenuebid.com/event/here-comes-santa-clause-first-visit-of-three/

* The Colonial Nutcracker at the Walt Whitman Theater  (Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts, 2900 Campus Rd, Brooklyn):   December 11th, 2pm.  An annual holiday favorite, Dance Theatre in Westchester performs its family-friendly, full-length version of Tchaikovsky’s ballet set in wintry colonial Yorktown, complete with a red-coated mouse army, an enchanted nutcracker prince, and simultaneous narration to help young audience members enjoy this timeless classic.   2hrs, 10 min including a 15 min intermission.  Recommended for ages 5+.  Tickets: $15. http://www.brooklyncenter.org/buy-tickets/calendar-of-events/view/The-Colonial-Nutcracker/

* Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Radio City Music Hall, Manhattan): The Radio City Christmas Spectacular 2016 literally kicks off the holiday season in NYC. Since 1933, the tap dancers, flying Santa and of course the Rockettes have put on one of the city’s most classic Christmas spectacles. If The Nutcracker from New York City Ballet is too stuffy and doesn’t have enough camels onstage for you, this show is the one to see.  https://www.rockettes.com/christmas/

* Tree Lighting Party (Greenwood Park, Park Slope):  December 7th from 6pm- close. The “biggest tree in Brooklyn”!  Tree, wreaths, and decorations will be for sale in the holiday market.  Bring the family to meet Santa – there will be hot coca, cider, food and drink specials!   http://greenwoodparkbk.com/blog/events/holiday-tree-lighting-party/

* Ice Spectacular (Lakeside @ Lefrak Center, Prospect Park):  December 18th, from 5:30 – 6:45pm.  This annual winter show is FREE to watch and features figure skating solos, duets, and group numbers. Group number registration includes three half-hour rehearsals on Sundays before the show as well as skate rental, show accessories, and keepsake programs on performance days. Register in advance online or in person, limited space available.  $40 for one (1) event, $60 for two (2) events.  http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/event/ice-spectacular-winter/

#LoveinaSafetyPin

love-in-a-safety-pin-webwritten by Dr. Cao

In response to the recent shocking tide of intolerance, I want to make sure you know that:

Our Company stands with Love, Equality, Kindness, Compassion and Community.

These are the values in which your SSP Team believes. By showing this ‘Love in a safety pin’ sticker on our door we want you to know that SSP is a Safe Haven where you will find smiles and help in the (hopefully unlikely) event that you find yourself harassed or bullied on the streets of Park Slope.

I am inviting all families and local businesses to join our ‘Love in a Safety Pin’ Campaign by claiming your free sticker and post photos online using #LoveInASafetyPin

How you can help:

1) Donate (gofundme.com/love-in-a-safety-pin) so we can keep producing and distributing stickers free of charge nationwide
2) Post on social media your photo with your sticker with hashtag #LoveInASafetyPin
3) Share this campaign with your friends and family

If you are a business:
1) Display your sticker in your storefront window
2) Establish a protocol to help in the event someone needs to seek refuge in your business
3) Post on social media the following statement:

“Our Company stands with Love, Equality, Kindness, Compassion and Community. These are the values in which your (Company Name) Team believes. By showing this ‘Love in a safety pin’ sticker on our door we want you to know that (Company Name) is a Safe Haven where you will find smiles and help in the (hopefully unlikely) event that you find yourself harassed or bullied on the streets of (Your Neighborhood Name). #LoveInASafetyPin”

When making a donation we will send you or a friend of your choice a free sticker.

Display it proudly and help your community. Help spread the LOVE !

Dr. Cao