I had my last class in our March series at PS 156 in LIC yesterday.
It went well, the afterschool Y coordinator was pleased.
When I asked her for feedback, she said she had
already talked to her Y superiors and told them how
much the kids enjoyed the program. She also said that
Ms. Jelitza, the 3rd grade teacher of the kids I
worked with approached her and said, "The strangest
thing happened. I expected the kids to miss gym, but
instead they approached me and asked, 'Where is Ms.
Prema? We really need to de-stress. It has been a hard
The kids signed a card. All of their notes said pretty
much the same thing: "Thank you so much for showing us to relax."
Carolina Banely, a rather reticent student, said now that it
was finished, she was going to show her brother at home.
In answer to Gerry's question, "What did you learn?"
The children answered,
"I learned how to feel good."
"Moving like this helps me relax."
"Is it time for the story yet?"
"I felt like I was floating."
We are licensed by the NYC Department of Health and take great care in staffing and delivering an environment that is safe, positive and creative for our children…and also ever interesting. I invited Michael Portney to bring his program, SMART-4-Kidz, to Kids Orbit. His well-trained and exuberant staff taught our after school program and the kids very much enjoyed and looked forward to the classes. Michael also conducted “train the trainer” sessions for our Summer Camp instructors so that we could bring SMART to our summer children as well.
Michael Portney is an educated, caring and thoughtful individual who was able to bring his program to us easily and eagerly. We felt very comfortable inviting and incorporating SMART-4-Kidz into our program as the philosophy and practice are in line with those of my company.
Brooklyn, New York
Michael Portney developed SMART-4-Kidz in our third year of collaboration as a direct result of his course work and personal care and interest in our children. He earnestly wanted to find a way to help children overcome their circumstance and help them to see better futures for themselves. The children were calmer, more focused and the open to learning! Children grew in confidence and happiness and took the skills into their classrooms and homes. One 8-year-old girl demonstrated her balancing to everyone who came to the house. She later used this concentration to overcome her fear of riding a bike without balancing wheels.
We are envious that New York has a dedicated provider in the SMART-4-Kidz program and I look forward to the day that Michael brings his program to Denver once again.
Jeanne M. Orrben, MSW
GSSW Columbine Bridge Project
University of Denver
I have hands on experience with SMART as we used this valuable resource at Safe Horizon after-school program in East New York, Brooklyn where I was program director.
The developer and director of SMART-4-Kidz, Michael Portney, gave us a turnkey operation with a fully trained staff who provided excellently managed classes for our children. The students loved the activity and found that SMART helped them greatly, as they became more attentive and involved in their classes. Many of our students used the techniques learned in SMART class as a way to calm down and focus before tests.
There is one particularly poignant anecdote about our relationship with SMART that I’d like to share with you. One of our students was a particularly troubled young lady who acted as a loner at best. Without prompting, she began to co-lead SMART classes and even wrote some stories for the group. Directly through her experience with SMART she blossomed into a person who took part in her community. She became very involved with the concept of the classes and the stories she wrote for the Safe-Horizon program are currently being used in the relaxation phase of the SMART curriculum.
Bridgett Sharon,. MA.
East New York, Brooklyn, New York
Michael and Joanne are reliable, fiscally responsible people and are always a pleasure to work with. They are clearly committed to improving the lives of children with programs that instill confidence and a sense of well being. I have seen first hand how SMART-4-Kidz activities engage children whose lives are all to often filled with stress and pressure.
I’m sure that an after school program created and managed by SMART-4-Kidz would have tremendous appeal to kids, parents, administrators and teachers.
Brooklyn, New York
I held a playdate at SMART-4-Kidz for my daughter and 7 of her friends. The kids loved the poses and came up with their own ideas. They were very comfortable and felt safe, which was most apparent during the story-telling section on the class. The children were excited to participate and did not want the class to end.
What impressed me most was that a couple of weeks later, Emily was sitting in a pose from the SMART class. She said “Look mommy, I’m a tree and see my pretty leaves?” She was relaxed and calm and made me realize the benefits of the class carry on beyond the session itself. I would be very happy to have SMART as an after school offering at Emily’s school.
Debbie von Ahrens
VP, General Sales Manger, FOX 5
New York, New York
I found the classes to be very helpful and fun to Xiana. She loved going to the classes and looked forward to them each week. When the series was over, she asked often about the next SMART Class. She felt very free to be herself in the class and expressed herself with confidence. I recall walking into her bedroom one day and finding her taking slow deep, steady breaths. I asked if anything was wrong or if she was feeling ill. Xiana’s reply was simply, “No Mom, I’m practicing my breathing from SMART. It helps to calm me down.”
I am confident in the good work from the creator and director of the program, Michael Portney. The quality of the teacher was very high and the experience for my daughter was also very high.
Brooklyn, New York