July 25, 2014
This summer’s Bronx Children’s Museum’s Dream Big arts enrichment program is all about creating bridges, figuratively and physically, inspired by the upcoming re-opening of the High Bridge. On July 25, at Dream Big Day at Lehman College in the Bronx, we honored the life of Bronx native Sonia Manzano (“Maria” from Sesame Street) who has been advocating for a children’s museum facility in the Bronx for close to 10 years. The Museum celebrated the day with workshops, an art show and demonstration by Dream Big participants and a special reading by Sonia Manzano of her newest children’s book about the life of the High Bridge (to be released by the Museum in the fall 2014). On stage in front of their families and notable celebrities and heroes, children danced, sang songs they created and produced about bridges; and displayed their sculptures and murals — all depicting how we use bridges in our lives.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sonia Sotomayor attended Dream Big Day, spending time with the children at their workshops in the morning. After lunch Justice Sotomayor joined the children in the closing Celebration in Lovinger Theatre. Noted speakers included Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bronx Borough President Ruben Díaz, Jr., NYC Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora.
Now in its fifth year, the overall goal of the Dream Big program is to inspire children to dream, work hard, follow their passions, and to become caretakers of their world. Dream Big is an intensive summer arts enrichment program for children from 2nd to 3rd grades at local Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and schools. Museum early childhood educators bring together local Bronx artists with local CBOs, schools, and community groups. In 2013, Dream Big expanded into a five month after school dance and visual arts program at PS 55 (using City Council funding through Vanessa Gibson) and in 2014 at PS 49 (using funds from the Pinkerton Foundation). Teaching artists engage children in the visual arts, dance and drama culminating in a closing celebration at their school or in the summer at a Bronx University or College where children display what they have learned.
In July 2014, one hundred twenty children from camps at Abraham House in Mott Haven, CS 211 in Morrisania, and Mosaic Beacon and Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone in Highbridge learned about the many ways we use bridges to unite us and to expand our knowledge, imagination, and horizons. The Museum provided children with 12 intensive sessions including arts instruction three days a week in music and the visual arts, dance, or sculpture; a visit from the Museum’s Rivers On the Go! exhibit on its purple bus containing a model of the High Bridge on the Harlem River; a day (this day) of fun and learning on July 25th called Dream Big Day at Lehman College; an upcoming picnic and field trip to High Bridge Park in Manhattan; and a small closing event at each camp site.
Our partners this summer included Abraham House; Center for Architecture Foundation; Lehman College; Catholic Charities Community Services of NY - Alianza Dominicana Division: MOSAIC Beacon and Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone; and CS 211, Children’s Aid Society.
Special thanks to Lehman College and to our Dream Big funders: Bronx Children’s Museum Board of Trustees, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York Inc., Estee Lauder, Joel and Joanne S. Feinberg, Goya Foods, Inc., Macy’s, Milea Truck Sales Corp., Montefiore Medical Center, New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, Inc., The Pinkerton Foundation, and Jenny Rivera.
Special Guest and Honoree Sonia Manzano shared with the children, “As a young girl in the South Bronx, I loved to read, dance, sing, imagine, watch movies and go to the library and the Museum of Natural History where I could be transported to anywhere in the universe. The combination of all these things allowed me to find the things I liked to do. But I will tell you a secret… You can dream big, but there are a lot of little dreams along the way. Try to set little goals for yourself, and then work to achieve them. Little by little, you will find what you like to do and do it!”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Díaz, Jr. remarked, “ I am glad that the Bronx Children’s Museum is honoring Sonia Manzano this summer as part of its Dream Big Summer program series. Sonia has given children a bridge to see themselves as an integral part and active contributing member of American culture through her role as “Maria” on Sesame Street. Sonia has also won countless awards for her children’s books as well as her books for the young Hispanic reader. Sonia Manzano understands firsthand that every child is born with the desire to learn and explore and that a children’s museum is imperative to make that happen. I congratulate Sonia and wish her the very best in all her endeavors.
NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said, “This year’s Dream Big theme, creating bridges, is very dear to me and am so proud that I, along with City Councilmember Gibson, was recently able to allocate $1.1 million toward the development of the Museum’s site. The Bronx Children’s Museum is like a bridge itself giving children the tools and inspiration to learn and follow their passions and to dream of, and attain, a higher standard of expectation for themselves, their families, and the planet. The Museum is a bridge that is long overdue.”
NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora told the students, “My dream was big enough to take me from the Dominican Republic all the way to Washington Heights and beyond. Now, as DDC Commissioner, I get to build great projects like the High Bridge that bring New York’s diverse communities together. No dream is too big to achieve if you’re passionate and hard-working. Dream Big!”
HUD Secretary-designate Julián Castro said, “My family and I are delighted to honor Sonia Manzano and to participate in the Bronx Children’s Museum’s Dream Big Celebration. Ms. Manzano is an extraordinary role model who continually inspires young people to reach for their own dreams. I commend the amazing work of the Bronx Children’s Museum and am especially pleased that, in August, the Museum will kick-off its ARTSPOT program in the courtyard of the Mitchel Houses, a NYCHA development in the heart of the South Bronx. Partnerships like this one foster opportunity for our nation’s young people.”
Honoree Sonia Manzano speaks about growing up in the Bronx, and her career as an actor and writer.
Video by David Schwittek
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