Every week, the children at LSSNY’s Safe Haven program receive a different vocational lesson, tailored to their needs and ages. 

The vocational class for children aged 5 through 12 includes critical thinking, problem solving, team building, and time management skills with an emphasis on building interpersonal skills, listening skills, and self-confidence. The children take part in cooking classes and develop career awareness, and the teenagers learn which schooling is required for different careers, how to fill out job applications, and how to prepare for interviews.

Periodically, Safe Haven brings in speakers from different fields, such as an immigration lawyer, a police officer, or a fireman, to familiarize the children with not only different career opportunities, but also people who can serve as role models, people with similar backgrounds to theirs who have found their professional identities.

#FlashbackFriday to the visit by two bilingual physicians from El Salvador — a male pediatrician and a female internist. Many of the children in the Safe Haven program hail from El Salvador and asked, “How did you learn English to become a physician?” The students were able to play with blood pressure monitors and different medical instruments.

Says Head Teacher Stephanie Vazquez about the program, “It really is a safe haven. We provide shelter, food, education. We teach them they’re not just leaving a situation, they’re going towards a place of opportunity. And if they work hard and dream big, they can reach their goals. We try to open their minds to succeed. A lot of them come with limiting beliefs in terms of what they can do. We try to expand that vision in our vocational lessons, because they come to us in a time of transition and might not have access to services like these when they leave.”