The founder and editor of PURIST, a new online and print wellness magazine debuting this summer in the Hamptons, Cristina has been a board member of the organization for 10 years and has seen first-hand the impact itsinnovative school partnerships and advocacy work have on improvingeducational opportunities for children. Read more about Turnaround’s goals and shop today to support this incredible organization!
How did Turnaround for Children start?
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Pamela Cantor, M.D., a practicing child psychiatrist for 18 years, helped lead a team commissioned by the New York City Board of Education to assess the impact of the terrorist attacks on the city's public schoolchildren. Surprisingly, while 68% of the children they observed experienced trauma sufficient to impair their functioning in school, it was from their ongoing experience of growing up in poverty, not from what they witnessed that terrifying day. What's more, Dr. Cantor and the researchers found that schools in high-poverty communities were in a state of chaos, woefully ill-equipped to meet the intense psychological and academic needs of their students.
Turnaround for Children was founded in 2002 to address this need. With support from the 9/11 fund, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Tiger Foundation and the New York Times Foundation, Dr. Cantor founded Turnaround to address the recurring, predictable challenges that plague chronically underperforming public schools.
What inspired you to become involved in the organization?
In 2006, I enrolled my three-and-a-half-year-old in a preschool called Hollingworth at Columbia University. Once I was on the education track as a mom, I befriended another mother, Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, the founder and director of the Columbia Lighthouse Project, a global suicide program at Columbia Presbyterian, who was also chairman of the board of Turnaround, then in its infancy stage. Our experience together with our first children in such a special classroom, coupled with her strong influence over me, gave me the impetus I needed to understand the incredible impact a decent education can have on a child. But once I met the founder, Dr. Pamela Cantor, and heard her vision, that was all I really needed to be inspired to support her work.