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Making Sure NY Kids are “Stronger Than the Storm”

PHOTO: The devastation wreaked on homes, like these in Long Beach, NY, by Hurricane Sandy has left many children emotionally vulnerable. Nassau Thrives, a new program funded by the state, aims to help them cope and become more resilient. Courtesy FEMA.
PHOTO: The devastation wreaked on homes, like these in Long Beach, NY, by Hurricane Sandy has left many children emotionally vulnerable. Nassau Thrives, a new program funded by the state, aims to help them cope and become more resilient. Courtesy FEMA.
November 5, 2013

FRANKLIN SQUARE, N.Y. – The anniversary of Superstorm Sandy has come and gone, but many children in the hardest-hit parts of the state still harbor fears, and a state-funded program is being launched to help them build resiliency.

The program, NASSAU THRIVES, is not linked to the Stronger Than the Storm campaign in New Jersey, but its goal is to help children cope with the emotional aftermath of Sandy and future challenges.

Jan Barbieri, who'll lead the initiative, tells of listening recently to one 3-year-old, who was worried about a brewing thunderstorm.

"And she said something about Long Island being an island," Barbieri relates, "and,'Was the storm going to make this island just flip over and then we would all just drown?'And you realize that this is far from gone in the children's minds."

Child care services in Long Beach and Freeport – two areas walloped by Sandy – will benefit most from a state block grant of more than $988,000, but other areas of the county won't be left out, either, according to administrators.

Barbieri is executive director of Child Care Council of Nassau, one of the three groups involved in the program. She says exposure to traumatic events in early childhood can increase the likelihood of delays in their development.

"For many children it was their home, it was their school, it was anything and everything they knew all around them impacted, in some shape or form," she explains.

Barbieri adds some children were further traumatized when they saw that their parents or caregivers, the ones they looked to for strength, were frightened by Sandy's ferocity, too.

"The very people who children usually see as the, 'It's okay, everything's going to be all right,' she says, “those are the very people who were impacted the most. So, it was like a double whammy here."

Joining in to launch NASSAU THRIVES are Adelphi University's Institute for Parenting and the children's health advocacy organization Docs for Tots.




Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY