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(New York, NY) Today New York-based national child advocacy organization Children’s Rights unveiled BRICKS FOR KIDS, a new sculpture on display at 10 Hudson Yards to raise awareness of the critical need to promote child mental health. This colorful seesaw sculpture, crafted out of toy bricks, was created to celebrate the brief moment that is childhood.
“Childhood should be a time of innocence, joy, and discovery. BRICKS FOR KIDS serves as a reminder that that joy has been missing in the lives of too many children over the last 15 months. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the mental health of children, who have experienced growing rates of isolation, loneliness, and anxiety due to disruptions in their lives,” said Sandy Santana, Executive Director of Children’s Rights. “This is particularly true for children in child welfare systems that have too often been harmful to children’s well-being and development. We encourage people who view this installation to learn more about the mental health challenges facing our country’s children and how they can help.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a surge in childhood anxiety and depression. School closures, remote teaching and learning interruptions have set back many children academically. Parents have lost jobs and income, creating financial instability—and exacerbating family stress. Nearly 40,000 children have lost a parent to COVID-19. Black children, who comprise only 14% of children in the US, accounted for 20 percent of children who lost parents to the virus. While fewer children were being seen in emergency rooms during the pandemic, a greater share of visits have been for mental-health reasons. Children who already had problems such as severe anxiety or learning disabilities face greater challenges, as do children living in poverty.
Children involved in government systems have been particularly hard hit. Children who have been separated from their parents – either at the border or by being taken from their own homes – are by definition exposed to trauma. What happens to them after they enter government care too often exacerbates their mental struggles. Even before the pandemic, it is estimated that nearly 80% of the over 400,000 children in foster care in America suffered from a mental health issue. Youth in foster care experience PTSD at two times the rate of US war veterans.
BRICKS FOR KIDS was designed to bring awareness to the threat mental illness poses to children’s well-being – now and as adults – and an invitation to join Children’s Rights in helping to ensure that all children have the childhood they deserve. Visitors to the installation will be encouraged to share photos of the sculpture on social media, learn more about child mental health in the U.S. and take a brief online quiz.
BRICKS FOR KIDS was commissioned by Children’s Rights, conceived and designed by Matter Unlimited, a creative and strategic social impact agency, and constructed by Brooklyn-based fabricator, The Factory. The installation will remain in Hudson Yards through Labor Day.
About Children’s Rights: Every day, children are harmed in America’s broken child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and healthcare systems. Through relentless strategic advocacy and legal action, we hold governments accountable for keeping kids safe and healthy. Children’s Rights, a national non-profit organization, has made a lasting impact for 1.5 million children and counting. For more information, please visit www.childrensrights.org.