Eighty 1st - 4th grade students from SCAN/ PS 274 in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the South Bronx were met by Bronx native U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Courthouse as part of Dream Big, a summer arts enrichment program run by the Bronx Children's Museum. Upon arrival the youngsters had a visit from the Canine Unit. Then the children sat in a courtroom while Justice Sotomayor spoke to them about their common roots and her path to the Supreme Court. She also shared her experiences of dealing with bullies and the importance of treating everybody fairly and justly.
The Museum's Dream Big summer program has been hosted by different camps in the Bronx for the past eight years. Each year, a different theme is explored for five weeks through the medium of the arts. In past years the children have explored the environment, health, and the American's with Disability Act. As part of the program, the children are brought on a day-long field trip to a Bronx university or college where they display or perform their work. Every year since 2010, Justice Sotomayor has been a special guest at the Museum's Dream Big Day celebration.
As the Museum's executive director, Carla Precht explained, "This summer we chose 'justice' as our theme because it is such a timely subject. Many of our children encounter situations where they feel they are not being treated fairly but do not think they have a voice or the power to change their circumstances or counter this feeling. It is important for adults to help validate and affirm that everyone deserves to be treated fairly and respectfully no matter who they are, where they live, what they look like, or how much money they have. It made sense to have the children study the life of someone who grew up in the Bronx in very similar circumstances, who worked hard and is presently one of nine Supreme Court Justices presiding over the highest court in the United States. It also made sense that we bring the children to a courthouse where justice is practiced every day."
Actor, Writer and Bronx native, Sonia Manzano, best known as "Maria" from Sesame Street accompanied Justice Sotomayor at the courthouse. Ms. Manzano, a long-time supporter of the Bronx Children's Museum stated, "It is of the utmost importance for children to feel empowered to stand up for what they believe is right, and have role models who do the same. That's why it is so special that the children got to share this day with Justice Sotomayor. As a girl growing up in the South Bronx, I often felt invisible. Through Dream Big, the Bronx Children's Museum team is helping children understand that they matter, their voice matters and that everyone deserves to be treated justly."
The Dream Big Initiative is made possible through the generosity The Dream Big Initiative is made possible through the generosity of the Museum Board of Trustees, New York Women’s Foundation, New York Yankees Foundation, and Macy's.