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July 25, 2014

Bronx Children's Museum Creating Bridges!


The fifth annual Bronx Children’s Museum’s Dream Big summer arts enrichment program was all about creating bridges, figuratively and physically, inspired by the upcooming re-opening of the High Bridge. The High Bridge is the oldest standing bridge in New York City and was originally built to house an aqueduct to transport clean water to New York City. 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 July 2014, 120 children came from camps at Abraham House in Mott Haven, C.S. 211 in Morrisania (a Summer Quest NYC Department of Education program) and Mosaic Beacon and Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone in Highbridge. The children 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, three days a week, including arts instruction in music and the visual arts, dance, or sculpture; a visit from the Museum’s Rivers On the Go! purple bus containing a model of the High Bridge on the Harlem River; a day of fun and learning on July 25th called Dream Big Day at Lehman College; a field trip to High Bridge Park in Manhattan; and a small closing event at each camp site.


On July 25th, at Dream Big Day, the Museum 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. Sonia Manzano recently wrote a book about the High Bridge (The Lowdown on the High Bridge) for the Museum. The book was used in the 2014 Dream Big program to teach children about the significance and story of the bridge. The Museum celebrated the end of its program with Dream Big Day. Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sonia Sotomayor, Honoree Sonia Manzano, and New York City Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Pena-Mora attended Dream Big Day and spent time with the children at their workshops in the morning. In the afternoon, there was an art show, a music and dance demonstration by Dream Big participants on stage, and remarks from Justice Sotomayor, Sonia Manzano, Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Pena-Mora. HUD Secretary Julian Castro and NYC Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell Silver were also in attendance. 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.


Museum partners included Abraham House, Catholic Charities, Center for Architecture Foundation, Children’s Aid Society, Lehman College, Mosaic Beacon and Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone, and Community School 211 ― with special thanks to Lehman College and to our funders Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, Goya Foods, Inc., Montefiore Medical Center, New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, Pinkerton Foundation, Estee Lauder, and Macy’s.


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.”




“Thank you Bronx Children’s Museum for a wonderful Dream Big 2014 experience. The children of the Mosaic Beacon program had fun working on their songs and drawings with the very professional teaching artists. The students used what they learned about the High Bridge and constructed exciting and memorable songs based on their learning. The students were also encouraged to dream big, thinking about their futures and the professions that they would like to have when they become adults. The creative art made by the students hung beautifully throughout the halls of Lehman College on the Dream Big! Day where the students were so delighted and proud to show off their hard work in an inspiring gallery of their future ambitions and through their performance on the big stage. I was very happy with the inventive programming designed by the Bronx Children’s Museum and how it combined creative writing and the arts with an educational based program.” 

 — Marie Stroud, Program Director, Catholic Charities Community Services, Alianza Division MOSAIC Beacon


“Thank you, Bronx Children’s Museum for all of the amazing programing that was provided to our students at the Children’s Aid Society summer program at C.S. 211. The students expressed how much fun they had learning about the High Bridge and creating the story of the bridges’ history through the performing arts. The teaching artist helped the students envision themselves as a part of history through movement and body awareness. The students used their bodies through rhythmic motion and were encouraged to be inspired by the greatness that surrounds their community. The program helped integrated educational and cultural learning in exciting and engaging activities including games of movement, storytelling, and visual arts all based upon teachings of bridge architecture and Bronx history. The students worked with determination to learn different segments to the dance that was then performed during the Dream Big! event at the programs end. They were also invited to a field day completed with a scenic walk to see the soon to be opened High Bridge that the children had been learning about. The programs designed by the Bronx Children’s Museum help inspire and motivate children to follow their dreams and to celebrate learning. The students have all expressed how they wish to continue to learn about their community and how to express themselves through different art forms. We at The Children’s Aid Society do not currently have a performing arts program in conjunction with our summer programming. We are so grateful to have had the Bronx Children’s Museum Dream Big! Program this summer. I believe the students have greatly benefitted from having an out of the classroom learning experience that will continue with them into the school year.” — Grace Nieves, Program Coordinator, CS 211



Dream Big 2014

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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