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Dr. Connie Siskowski named as a CNN 2012 Hero


"Everyday people changing the world"

CNN Heroes is a year-long initiative that honors everyday people for their selfless, creative efforts to help others.  All CNN Heroes are selected from viewer nominations submitted at CNNHeroes.com. Last year, more than 10,000 nominations were received from 100 countries.

 
ConnieSConnie Siskowski, RN, PhD, educated at Johns Hopkins and New York University, obtained her PhD in 2004 from Lynn University to have a bigger voice for family caregivers.  Connie never expected her doctoral research to uncover the high prevalence of family health situations and concomitant caregiving with detrimental academic effects upon children in Palm Beach County. Her broad background in healthcare and dedication to diminishing caregiver isolation and struggles led to the 1998 establishment of what is now the American Association of Caregiving Youth®.  It includes the Caregiving Youth Project, the first US program to support the hidden population of child caregivers. Her dream is for all family caregivers to be honored and respected but especially youth for their contributions to family and to society; no child should have to drop out of school because he or she has to care for a family member.

 

In June of 2009, Connie was awarded a lifetime Ashoka Fellowship and in October 2009 she became one of 10 Purpose Prize winners, a national endeavor honoring persons over 60 years of age who initiated an innovative solution for social change. In September 2010 The Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association presented her with The Distinguished Alumna Award. In 2011 AACY won the Palm Beach County Medical Society's Heroes in Medicine Award for Community Outreach and later that year Connie was named a Woman of Grace by Bethesda Hospital Foundation.  
 
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American Association of Caregiving Youth® is the national resource for the support of children who are caring for ill, injured, elderly, or disabled family members.  AACY is located in Boca Raton, Florida.  Visit www.aacy.org to learn more about AACY and the caregiving youth project. 

 

LANDMARK DECISION BY SCHOOL DISTRICT

Caregiving Youth Recognized for Doing Community Service at Home

(Palm Beach County, FL – March 22, 2012). Caregiving Youth, enrolled with the Caregiving Youth Project (CYP) of the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY), now have the opportunity to update and report Caregiving status to AACY/CYP staff for conversion to Community Service Hours on a monthly basis throughout the calendar year. Community Service Hours are required for graduation and are commonly recognized by academic institutions across the country. Prior to this decision, work at home was not recognized as community service.

I have good news for you” stated Kim Williams the CYP liaison with The School District of Palm Beach County in a telephone call yesterday to Dr. Connie Siskowski, President of AACY. “Your proposal for community service hours was approved!”

The awarding of community service hours is in accordance with specific criteria including that a home visit has been made through the CYP. The home visit validates the caregiving situation and the student’s Level of Responsibility (LOR).  The LOR is five tiered weighted index modified from the adult family caregiving Level of Care/Burden.  It uses the tasks and hours/wk as determinants with personal care tasks such as those that a home health aide would do (feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, diapering) receiving a higher weight than household chores such as grocery shopping or laundry.)

As Boca High student Mishu Khan states, “Now caregiving youth can compete with peers – our playing field is a little more level.”

The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) is a Florida based 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation that began serving the greater Boca Raton community in 1998. Today AACY is the only organization of its kind in the United States for addressing the issues surrounding the silent, vulnerable and hidden population, conservatively estimated to exceed 1.4 million children, who provide care for ill, injured, elderly or disabled family members. Its mission is to recognize, support, and promote the awareness of these youth that are both students and family caregivers.

AACY’s model program, the Caregiving Youth Project (CYP), works in partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County and currently serves more than 500 caregiving youth and their families in 8 area middle schools and 17 high schools. The mission of the CYP is a) Increase awareness of caregiving youth issues throughout the Palm Beach County health and education communities; b) Identify and prioritize students in greatest need of services through eligibility and assessment; c) Reduce anxiety, depression and isolation while increasing the ability for caregiving youth to remain in school through the provision of counseling, education, and support services including respite and sponsored activities; and d) Conduct in-home evaluations to strengthen families by linking them with existing community support services.

 

Ending the Silence

Click on the image above for a good documentary film about youth caregiving from Canada. One interesting aspect is that it is through the juvenile justice system, check it out at www.comoxvalleyyouthascaregivers.org !

We know from research and the experience of our community that many Canadian youth are caregivers. But because little is known about youth caregivers, they do not receive enough support. The "Ending the Silence" project helps our community learn about the lives of our youth caregivers. It raises awareness of their needs and develops support to help them.

If you'd like more information on youth caregiving or the Cowichan Youth Caregivers project, please go to their website at youthcaregivers.org

Courage Awards Presented to Caregiving Youth

 

 

Courage Awards Presented to Caregiving Youth

 

Boca Raton, FL – April 4, 2012 – The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) held its Hearts & “Soles” Dinner in celebration and support of the 10,000 caregiving youth in Palm Beach County.

 

AACY’s 3rd annual fundraiser, which was held at Via Mizner Country Club has adopted the theme, Hearts and “Soles” in an effort to promote awareness of what it must be like to “walk in the shoes” of caregiving youth.

 

The event included cocktails and dinner, music by the Boca Raton Community Middle School Jazz Band along with a presentation by Peter Slack its Principal. Mr. Slack was accompanied by his sister Keri as they both shared their stories as caregiving youth.

 

Also during the evening was a tribute by Ronald Gallatin and Gary Siskowski to the memory of Fred Galland, the first Board Chair of AACY.

 

There were live and silent auctions and AACY’s signature “Courage Awards” for caregiving youth who have courageously and candidly participated in research projects, speaking engagements, performances and media coverage of AACY to further awareness for the cause.

 

Rina Jakubowicz, Author of “Choose Peace” was the keynote speaker. Miss Jakubowicz discussed the importance of caring for oneself.

In addition, Co-Chairs of the event, Summer Faerman and Mark Hansen were pleased to welcome comments from Chuck Anderson, President and CEO of United Way of Palm Beach. Anderson relayed his difficult experiences as youth caregiver for his mother and how he wished some support could have been available for him.

 

AACY is the only national organization dedicated to the support of kids who care for ill, injured, elderly or disabled family members. Conservative estimates of the number of caregiving youth nationwide exceed 1.4 million kids. AACY’s model program, the Caregiving Youth Project, in full partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County, now serves more than 500 caregiving youth and their families in 8 middle schools and 17 area high schools. AACY needs and welcomes your support as the demand for its services for child caregivers continues to climb.

 

For Information About AACY:

Dr. Connie Siskowski (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

American Association of Caregiving Youth (www.aacy.org)

561-391-7401

 

 

About AACY: The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) is a Florida based 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporations that began serving the greater Boca Raton community in 1998. AACY is the only organization of its kind in the United States for caregiving youth, a vulnerable and hidden population conservatively estimated to exceed 1.4 millions kids. Its mission is to recognize, support, and promote the awareness of dual role youth that are both students and caregivers within their families. AACY strives to address the needs of pre-teens, teens, families, and professionals through education and awareness, research, and direct services in cooperation with social, education, healthcare, government, and community corporations, organizations, and agencies. AACY seeks to utilize existing resources on a local, regional, and national level to effectively promote the valuable role a caregiving youth has within the family, in an aging society and in our health delivery system.

For more information about AACY, go to www.aacy.org, or call 561-391-7401

Caregiving Youth Video

AACY is the only national organization dedicated to the support of kids who care for ill, injured, elderly or disabled family members. Conservative estimates of the number of caregiving youth nationwide exceed 1.4 million kids. AACY's model program, the Caregiving Youth Project, in full partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County, now serves more than 500 caregiving youth and their families in 8 middle schools and 17 area high schools. AACY needs and welcomes your support as the demand for its services for child caregivers continues to climb.

 

Isabel Parrado Joins AACY Board

For Immediate Release: “CYP - A Safety Net that Saves At Risk Students”

 

October 18, 2011

Boca Raton, FL. Isabel (Izzy) Parrado, M. Ed an employee of The School District of Palm Beach County since 1977 has joined the Board of Directors of the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY). She is a professional counselor at Okeeheelee Middle School, one of eight middle schools in the County to house the Caregiving Youth Project (CYP) of AACY. Izzy earned her BA degree from the University of Florida and her Master of Education in School Counseling Education from Florida Atlantic University. She is the Treasurer of the Palm Beach School Counselors Association and is a member of the Florida School Counselors Association as well as a former Board member of the Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches. The CYP is now in its fourth year at Okeeheelee Middle School where Izzy says, “It is a safety net that saves at risk students.”

AACY works in full partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County and currently serves more than 400 caregiving youth and their families in 8 area middle schools and 17 high schools, with 150 more youth being added in the coming year. The broad mission of the CYP is a) Increase awareness of caregiving youth issues throughout the Palm Beach County health and education communities; b) Identify and prioritize students in greatest need of services through survey and assessment; c) Reduce anxiety, depression and increase caregiving children's satisfaction with life through the provision of counseling, education, and support services including respite and sponsored activities; d) Conduct in-home evaluations to link families with existing support services; and e) replicate the CYP model nationwide

 

Doyle Award for Non-Profit Excellence Spotlights AACY

The Doyle Award for Nonprofit Excellence, established byThe Dennis M. and Lois A. Doyle Family Foundation in partnership with Sun Sentinel Charities,  spotlights local nonprofits and the people behind them that make South Florida a great place to live. The award, which includes a $1,000 donation, will be given to one nonprofit in Broward County and one in Palm Beach County each month through December, 2012.  The January 2012 Palm Beach County award went to AACY

 You may download and read the press article here

Hidden Population

Caregiving youth are a hidden population.  Their efforts are unseen but important.

This video uses a portion of the longer video "Little Mom"

Directed by Maria Fortiz-Morse for Stanford University's masters program in documentary film, used with permission.

 

Hearts and Soles Honoray Chairperson Rina Jakubowicz

RINA JAKUBOWICZ, CELEBRATED YOGA TEACHER, AUTHOR AND

CONTAGIOUS PERSON IS HONORARY CHAIRPERSON

(Palm Beach County, FL – January 10, 2012). Warning: Attend this event and your life could change! Rina Jakubowicz, Honorary Chairperson and inspiring keynote speaker is well known for her approach to yoga and to life. She strives to challenge you beyond measure to reach your pinnacle of personal achievement and experience joy.

 

Rina will also be challenging caregiving youth to do the same. Caregiving youth attending the evening are already on their journey as they will be receiving Awards of Courage for participating above and beyond in the Caregiving Youth Project, the primary local program of the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY).

 

Boca Raton Community Middle School’s jazz band will provide music during the reception which includes “YouthTinis” courtesy of Blue Martini. For the first time publicly, Peter Slack, Principal of Boca Middle, accompanied by his sister, Keri Slack, will share their story about caregiving in their young years.

 

Later in the evening Chuck Anderson, President and CEO of United Way of Palm Beach County will also for the first time, speak of his childhood and how family health situations, beyond his control, impacted his life.

 

According to Mark Hansen, Chair of the Board of the AACY and event co-chair, “We have created a very special time to honor those children who our organization serves, and bring increased recognition of the challenging responsibilities youth caregivers face. Today, AACY, through its local Caregiving Youth Project, provides assistance, support, respite and education to over 500 students plus their family members throughout Palm Beach County as well as providing information and resources to thousands of others. Based upon the escalating increase in requests for assistance directly from caregiving youth within middle and high schools, the need is much greater. It is our hope that this event will elicit strong community recognition and support.”

 

Often, caregiving youth are sacrificing their education and childhood for years when it comes to providing care for ill, injured, elderly or disabled family members,” says Summer Faerman, event Co-Chair. “They are on the frontline and back line every day. It’s our responsibility as the greater community to unite in recognition of their efforts and to provide the help they need, here in Palm Beach County, in FL and in the US.

 

AACY’s 3rd annual fundraiser, scheduled for February 23, 2012 at Via Mizner Golf & Country Club, formerly the Country Club of Boca Raton, has adopted the theme: Hearts and “Soles” in an effort to promote awareness of what it must be like to “walk in the shoes” of caregiving youth. The $50 event ticket includes cocktails and dinner, music, live and silent auctions, a raffle, video presentations, guest speakers, and AACY’s signature “Courage Awards” for caregiving youth who have candidly participated in media coverage of AACY in furtherance of awareness for the cause.

 

A wide range of sponsorship opportunities for the event is available. No gift is considered too small and donated items for the silent auction and raffle would be greatly appreciated and formally recognized.

 

3rd Annual AACY Hearts and “Soles” Fundraising Event

Thursday, February 23, 2011

5:30-9:30 PM

Via Mizner Golf & Country Club

Formerly the Country Club of Boca Raton

6200 Boca Del Mar Drive

Boca Raton, FL 33433

 

To Donate or to Attend, contact:

Gerry Fallon (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

561-391-7401, or

 

Summer Faerman

Event Co-Chair (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

561-391-7401

 

For Information About AACY:

Dr. Connie Siskowski (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

American Association of Caregiving Youth (www.aacy.org)

561-391-7401

 

About AACY: The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) is a Florida based 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporations that began serving the greater Boca Raton community in 1998. AACY is the only organization of its kind in the United States for caregiving youth, a vulnerable and hidden population conservatively estimated to exceed 1.4 million kids ages 8-18 years. Its mission is to recognize, support, and promote the awareness of dual role youth that are both students and caregivers within their families. AACY strives to address the needs of pre-teens, teens, families, and professionals through education and awareness, research, and direct services in cooperation with social, education, healthcare, government, and community corporations, organizations, and agencies. AACY seeks to utilize existing resources on a local, regional, and national level to effectively promote the valuable role a caregiving youth has within the family, in an aging society and in our health delivery system.

For more information about AACY, go to www.aacy.org, or call 561-391-7401.

 

 

 

AACY Hosts Holiday Celebration for Sell Out Crowd

LOCAL NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION HOSTS HOLIDAY CELEBRATION FOR “SELL OUT” CROWD

 

(January 5, 2012. Boca Raton, FL.) Headquartered in Boca Raton, the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) is the only organization in the United States that identifies, recognizes and supports children who care for ill, injured, elderly and/or disabled family members. In celebration of the Holiday Season and thanks to the generous support of Benvenuto Restaurant and many others, a time of celebration was had by more than 350 people.

Mark Hansen, former member of the Palm Beach County Board of Education and AACY Board Chair welcomed the families, followed by an invocation led by the Rev. Dr. Tom Tift, Board Secretary.

It ‘takes a community’ to support caregiving families and especially caregiving youth” says Dr. Connie Siskowski, the nonprofit organization’s president. Activities of the evening included card crafts for the little ones, the Holiday Shoppe for caregiving youth to select and wrap gifts for family members, gifts under wraps for caregiving youth and their siblings, family portraits, dinner, singing, door prizes and listening to some words of wisdom and encouragement from Izzy Parrado, Guidance Counselor at Okeeheelee Middle School and AACY Board member.

Among those who contributed to the success of the event, orchestrated by Summer Faerman AACY’s Civic Engagement Coordinator, include: Benvenuto Restaurant, Chartwells Food Services, Chipotle Mexican Grill, EducationDynamics, First United Methodist Church Men's Group, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Olive Garden Italian Restaurant, Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, St. Paul's Lutheran Church Mom's Club, Stratis Business Systems, Volunteers, and Walmart. 

Since its inception in 2006, the Caregiving Youth Project has served as a prototype for the nation and has provided assistance, support and education to over 7,000 students in Palm Beach County. Currently, it is working with more than 500 youth caregivers and their families who entered the Project from eight middle schools in the county. AACY’s newest affiliate is in the Bronx, NY.

For more information, visit www.aacy.org, call Dr. Siskowski at 561-391-7401 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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