FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
Caren Browning, Abyssinian Development Corp
Leah Lesser, Bright Horizons
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
HARLEM CHILDREN ENJOY FIRST BRIGHT SPACE CENTER
DEDICATED PLAY AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
New York, NY – May 23, 2007 – The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC) and
Community Playthings, today cut ribbons to officially open Harlem’s first Bright Space center
for homeless children at Abyssinian House, a Tier II transitional residence serving the families of
Harlem. Bright Space centers are designed to provide homeless children in shelters with a
dedicated warm, enriching area to play and learn.
“We are inspired and energized by this partnership with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center, Abyssinian Development Corporation and Community Playthings, which will provide
some of Harlem’s neediest children with engaging educational places to play, learn and find
security and warmth,” said David Lissy, CEO, Bright Horizons Family Solutions and Member of
the Board of the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children. “It is our mission to raise the bar for
the quality of care and early education for young children across this country. This partnership
helps ensure that Harlem’s neediest children will get an early start and opportunity to begin a
never-ending journey of success in school and life.”
Bright Space Centers Enable Homeless Children to Discover the Magic of Childhood
Studies have shown that children of all ages thrive when they have a safe place in which to
explore the world around them, filled with books, toys and activities that are developmentally
appropriate. However, the reality for homeless children is that they do not have access to the
space and equipment necessary to develop social, cognitive, gross motor and language skills,
which are so critical for success later in life.
At homeless shelters, it is a challenge simply to find a room to sleep in, never mind toys to play
with, comfortable chairs to sit on, or books to stimulate the imagination. When children are in a
homeless shelter, it is a challenge for them to discover the magic of childhood.
“Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is proud to participate in this partnership with
Abyssinian House, Bright Horizons and Community Playthings. For almost four years, Bright
Horizons has managed MSKCC’s Children’s Center on Roosevelt Island, and now also provides
back-up child and elder care to our almost 10,000 employees," said Dennis Dowdell, Jr., Vice
President of Human Resources at MSKCC. “This beautiful Bright Space would not be possible
without the support of our employees who raised funds for this employee-driven initiative. We
applaud our staff and the staff of the MSKCC Children's Center on Roosevelt Island for their
commitment to the needs of homeless children and families in our community.”
For nearly 12 years, ADC has operated Abyssinian House, providing Harlem’s neediest families
with counseling, intensive case management and referrals to other social service agencies. ADC
works with families to provide support and resources in order to successfully transition them into
permanent housing and offers quality child care and recreational activities such as the new Bright
“It gives us great joy and a sense of real accomplishment to open the doors to Harlem’s first
Bright Space at Abyssinian House,” said Sheena Wright, President and CEO of ADC. “I thank
Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Bright Horizons and Community Playthings for their support and for
opening their hearts to the youngsters here at Abby House.”
The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, the nonprofit organization of Bright Horizons
Family Solutions, the leading provider of employer-sponsored child care, early education and
work/life solutions, established the Bright Space program to create appropriate play and learning
areas for children of all ages living in homeless shelters.
In a Bright Space, the well-worn children’s area in many shelters is transformed by a team of
early education and design professionals to create a warm, inviting environment where homeless
children can simply be children.
Curtains are put up, cozy nooks are strategically placed around the room to give children of all
ages a comfortable place to explore, and shelves overflow with award-winning children’s books,
educational toys and games and soft toys. Dramatic play areas are set up so children can act out
their fantasies and learn to socialize with their peers. Each Bright Space is designed specifically
for the individual shelter by early education professionals from Bright Horizons, who create the
Bright Space to help meet the needs of the children living in the shelter.
In addition to the opening of the Abby House Bright Space, plans are underway for MSKCC's
screening facility, the Breast Examination Center of Harlem, to provide cancer education and
screening information to the shelter's residents.
New York based Community Playthings graciously donated furniture, equipment and toys for
the Bright Space, creating a welcoming, friendly environment for the children at ADC. Visit
www.communityplaythings.com to learn more.
About Bright Horizons Family Solutions and the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children
Bright Horizons Family Solutions is the world’s leading provider of employer-sponsored child
care, early education and work/life solutions. The company operates more than 600 child care
and early education centers across the United States, Europe and Canada. The Bright Horizons
Foundation for Children was founded in 1999 to help forward the vision of Bright Horizons
Family Solutions to make a difference in the lives of children and families. Bright Spaces is a
program of the foundation, creating dedicated play areas in homeless shelters. There are now
more than 130 Bright Spaces located in shelters in more than 30 states around the country,
serving thousands of children each year. More information is at
About Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) is the world’s oldest and largest private
institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research and education in cancer. Its scientists
and clinicians generate innovative approaches to better understand, diagnose and treat cancer.
MSKCC specialists are leaders in biomedical research and in translating the latest research to
advance the standard of cancer care worldwide. For more information, go to www.mskcc.org.
About Abyssinian Development Corporation
Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC) is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit comprehensive community
development corporation dedicated to improving the quality of life in Harlem. For almost 20 years, ADC
has helped to strengthen and rebuild the socioeconomic fabric of the Harlem community by developing
housing, spearheading commercial development, stimulating the local economy, fostering education,
strengthening families and building community capacity through civic engagement. ADC has grown into
a $300 million, 135+ person agency with significant accomplishments, playing a key leadership role in
the current “Harlem Renaissance.” ADC established the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and
Social Change, a public intermediate and high school, and its successor, opened in September of 2005, the
Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School. www.adcorp.org.