Making a Splash!

    Our Smilow swimmers are helping to make their community more swim-friendly! Partnering with Samara Community School, members and staff at Madison are doing their part to ensure pool safety and awareness. Clubhouse Director Linda Sargeant gave us the scoop on this amazing program.

    What is the structure of the program?

    The Samara Community School Swim Program at the Smilow Clubhouse is a 10-week program offered from April -June during the school year. Samara, a small charter school located a short two blocks away from the Clubhouse, offers all of its students basic introductory aquatic skills that familiarize students with life-saving techniques and the free-style kick with proper breathing." Each student, with their parents' permission, attends a 45-minute class in the pool with a certified swim instructor and two adult classroom assistants.

    During the 10 weeks the students learn such things as: putting their faces in the water, learning to float on their front and back assisted and unassisted, kicking with a board and front gliding with a free-style kick. While many of the students have waded in beach water and played in their neighborhood pools, the majority have not had any organized swimming instructions either for their enjoyment or for water safety.

    How many kids (both Madison and Samara) participate?

    In this our third year of partnership, 170 students are participating in the swim program of which a solid 30% are Madison Club members.

    Share the history of the partnership.

    During the first two years of the swim program, classes were scheduled on Fridays only.

    In year one, approximately 80-100 students attended and received swim instruction for 3.5 hours. In year two (last year), 130 students enrolled and classes and participants received instruction for 4.5 hours.

    This year, it was decided to split the program into three days, Tuesdays through Thursdays, for 4.5 hours, and 170 students are enrolled.

    Our partnership with Samara has been quite successful, the three years of the program will attest to that along with the growing participation of the students.

    How have members reacted to the program?

    Samara member reactions have been quite favorable. You can hear their enthusiasm as they approach the Clubhouse and as they enter the building – they are anxious to get changed and get quickly into the water. They know that they are safe and that a school staff member is in the water with them. They also like the fact the Smilow instructors are fun and easy to learn from.

    What are the members’ favorite part of the program?

    For those who have attended the program in prior years, the opportunity to demonstrate to their instructors and fellow participants what they have learned and remembered is something they love to do. Generally speaking, the majority of students are anxious to be in the water to learn how to swim and have fun. Even for those few who are afraid, just knowing that they have a supportive adult present is comforting and for some by the end of 10 weeks, they are able place their heads in the water for 10 seconds - a very big accomplishment for them!

    A Passion for Fashion

    Members from our Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse struck their best pose when they hosted a fashion extravaganza! From design to modeling, everyone joined in on the fun.

    Forty-two members from all age groups, along with staff, flexed their fashion talent at Murphy Clubhouse’s recent fashion show. Members brought in their own clothes to wear, materials to work with, or existing outfits to revamp for the show. Members enhanced their existing pieces by painting on them, sewing on new fabric or embellishing, while others made clothes from scratch. The Clubhouse hosted sewing workshops and taught members how to cut fabric, create their own designs, and how to put it all together using sewing machines. Members then styled outfits for their peers to model during the show. Lastly, members also accessorized outfits and even made some of the jewelry themselves.

    While designers and stylists were worked, models had runway practice. They learned how to walk the runway and exude confidence. On show day, other members stepped in as the “glam team” and worked on hair and makeup.

    Preparation for the show took about two months and was orchestrated by Murphy’s Director of the Arts, Rhonda Williams.


    Celebrating Mom

    May is the month of celebrating all of the important women in our lives, including Moms! At the Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse, some of our members paid special tribute to the leading ladies in their lives.

    As a way of saying thank you, members of the Murphy Clubhouse’s Passport to Manhood program hosted a special dinner for the important woman in their lives. Moms, grandmas, aunts, and special friends were treated to lovely evening and delicious dinner, prepared and served by our members.

    Passport to Manhood is a targeted effort to engage young boys in discussions and activities that reinforce good character. The program addresses critical issues that young men face, such as ethics, decision making, wellness, employment and careers, cooperation and conflict, diversity, relationships, and self-esteem.

    Staff Spotlight: Tasha Cooper, Smilow Clubhouse

    Our Clubhouses continue to be the focal point of all we do. Without the dedication of our staff, our members would be without reliable, positive adult role models and relationships. One such staff member who has continued to provide mentorship to our members is Tasha Cooper, Director of Leadership Development at the Smilow Clubhouse.

    Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself!

    A: My name is Tasha Cooper. My parents are from Trinidad and Tobago and they migrated to America for a better life. I am born on the 4th of July and I am a native New Yorker initially from Queens, NY. At the age of 12 my parents moved to Harlem, NY and I attended Frederick Douglass Academy from 7- 12th grade. I graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a B.S. in Legal Studies (2011) and I am graduating with an M.P.A. from John Jay College on May 30th, 2018.

    Q: What role do you play at Madison?

    A: I am the Director of Leadership Development at the Smilow Clubhouse. I am responsible for three premier leadership programs which are Torch Club, Keystone Club, and Youth of the Year. Torch Club serves members ages 11-12. We conduct elections, service projects, workshops and many fun activities that encourages the development of leadership skills. Keystone is a program offered to members ages 13- 18. The program encourages good citizenship, service, and opportunities to develop good character and leadership skills. Youth of the Year amplifies the Club experience of High school seniors that exhibit good character and citizenship, leadership skills, academic success. I am honored to say that this year my Youth of the Year Grace Assabil- Bentum was selected to represent Madison Square Boys & Girls Club at the New York State competition. 

    Q: How did you get connected to Madison and ultimately the Smilow Clubhouse?

    A: I started working with children as a freshman in college and I realize that am passionate about helping others. Prior to Madison, I worked for the Department of Education, Social services agencies and lastly, a legal program in Queens, NY with high school students. That experience helped me realize that I wanted to do more. I came across the Madison website and applied for a position. That was one of the best decisions I made. I was the Director of Leadership Development at the Columbus Clubhouse for 3 years before transferring to the Smilow Clubhouse. I have been here for the last 9 months.

    Q: What is your favorite thing about working at Madison?

    A: One of my favorite things about Madison is that they allow kids to be children by offering amazing programs and opportunities. I look forward to coming in everyday because the kids are always excited to see me as much as I am to see them. Sometimes, I open my office and kids are literally running in, which shows me that I am making a difference in the lives of so many young people. There is nothing more rewarding.

    Q: What are your goals for the upcoming Clubhouse year?

    A: This year, I hope to run a curriculum from We.org during the summer and provide fun service projects as well as service learning for members. I am also looking forward to teaching children about elections and its process. I will also start recruiting future ambassadors for the next cycle of Youth of the Year as well as continue to support my current Ambassadors.

    Upcoming Special Events

    Youth of the Year Dinner: May 23, 2018

    Bronx Grand Gala: June 14, 2018

    A Night at Yankees Stadium: May 25, 2018

    Fore the Kids Golf Tournament: August 6, 2018

    Christmas Tree Ball: November 30, 2018

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