The Video Interaction Project (VIP), a program that originally started 10 years ago at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, now provides videotaped playtime and reading sessions for all parents with children up to three years old at the Brooklyn hospital on Broadway.
The simulated play session is designed to help parents review tape of how they respond to their child’s speech patterns, depict and label every day objects and communicate with their child.
Kiara Gonzalez, 21, has participated in the program with her 53-day-old child Samaris since she was first born at Woodhull Hospital.
“It taught me a lot of things that I didn’t really know,” Gonzalez explained. “I actually like the fact that they film it, because I get to take the videos home and see things I can improve on.”
Gonzalez said she also brings the things she learned from the program to her friends with children in the neighborhood.
“My friend recently found out she was pregnant, so I recommended her to come to this hospital and to check out the program,” Gonzalez said.
She added that the hospital also stays in close contact to check up on her progress.
“The whole point of this is to find and point out strengths that every parent has,” said Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Population Health at New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital.
The Children of Bellevue Inc., in collaboration with the NYU School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, first brought VIP to Bellevue Hospital in 1999 as a means to better prepare the children of low and middle-income families.
“VIP is incredibly innovative in that it uses pediatric check-ups to enhance children’s early development and school readiness during a period of rapid brain development in newborn babies,” Mendelsohn said.
With the help the Tiger Foundation, the Marks Family Foundation and $15,000 from Councilman Stephen Levin, Woodhull will now have the funding to help serve 1,000 low-income families throughout the communities of Williamsburg, Bushwick, Greenpoint, Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“It’s essential that we do everything we can as a city to help at-risk children,” Levin said. “The VIP does just that by promoting school readiness amongst kids that need the most help.”
With an estimated cost of roughly $150 per child each year, the program has already served 100 families at Woodhull since it first began at the hospital in March 2013.
The program will now be offered during routine pediatric checkups for all families with children.
“I’m really thrilled to have provided some seed money in the City Council budget to bring the VIP program here to Woodhull,” Levin added. “I’m really proud of the partnership and I look forward to supporting the project for many years to come.”