Dr. Henry Viscardi Jr. was born with shortened limbs. Not one to let his challenges define him, though, he worked to achieve his doctorate and went on to serve as the disability adviser to eight US presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter. Believing in children's ability to achieve greatness despite any obstacle, he founded The Viscardi Center in 1952. For the last half-century, the center has worked to educate and empower people with disabilities by providing education from prekindergarten to high school, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, and career counseling through a network of organizations.
A member of this network, the Henry Viscardi School was founded in 1962 and today teaches 180 children who have severe physical disabilities such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. These students learn in small groups of up to nine and study all of the state-mandated subjects, including science and math. The school maintains a host of medical supports, including communication devices, and the help of nurses and social workers, to ensure the children's safety, and it offers extended educational training in the form of postgraduate skills and summer instruction.
Australian children's-music sensations The Wiggles have been entertaining kids with wacky singing, silly dancing, and onstage antics for 20 years. The color-coded quartet uses songs, games, and storytelling to encourage participation from pintsize audience members, fostering a sense of youthful empowerment usually found only in preteen monarchs and omnipotent Star Children. Kids and parents alike are transported to The Wiggles' magical world of Big Red Cars, feather-wielding pirates, and rose-eating dinosaurs, licensing audience members of all ages to be silly and have fun. Concertgoers experience the show safely sequestered in the orchestra level of the NYCB Theatre at Westbury, enjoying a non-naked mole rat's view of onstage frolics and access to smile-feeding aural nourishment.
While living the life of a peripatetic juggling duo in 1970s Europe, Paul Binder and Michael Christensen had a dream: a non-profit circus that would combine community outreach with shows by the world’s best performers. Today a rotating cast of acrobats, clowns, and daredevils tour with a menagerie of exotic animals. Led by animal trainer Jenny Vidbel. The circus's ponies, Arabian horses, and dogs perform sprightly routines, learned under humane training regimens based on positive reinforcement. Shows take place under the big top, custom designed so that every seat is within 50 feet of the ring. The tent is also engineered to keep showgoers comfortable with a raisable cupola that allows warm air to escape as guests relax on comfy cushions that keep incubating eggs from cracking in back pockets.
Surrounded by the urban tumult of New York City, Nicky's Beer Garden prides itself on its uncharacteristically down-home, southern charm. As owner Nick Ligotino told the Bronx Times in 2011, "I wanted to come up with something that’s never been seen here in the Bronx." His kitchen delivers this distinctive touch by smoking pork onsite, blending sweet sauces in-house, and coating pieces of fried chicken with a secret blend of herbs and spices. The restaurant also boasts a selection of beers from domestic and international breweries to accompany the Americana-tinged menu of hearty comfort foods.
Small tables line the dining room's gleaming wooden floors, but the restaurant's outdoor beer garden encourages guests to enjoy their evening alfresco. Picnic tables fill the stone-tiled yard surrounded by a wooden fence, shady trees, and a mural painted with barbecue sauce.
Every summer, Angler Fishing Fleet's Captain Ken welcomes youngsters aboard his fishing boat for a weeklong fishing camp. He schools campers in fishing techniques, conservation, and boat safety in a demonstration of the company’s initiatives to empower budding fishermen in exploring local waters. In addition to camps, staff captains host frequent lectures that cover subjects such as anchoring techniques, bait, and which fish are the likeliest to grant wishes.
On private charters, the crew seeks schools with onboard sonar equipment and supplies passengers with fishing gear and bait. The Angler II ferries up to 39 passengers on fishing trips in the western Long Island Sound. It is a 50-foot Coast Guard–inspected vessel. The sleek Angler III, another 50-foot Coast Guard–inspected vessel, also escorts passengers through the sound, but it can hold up to 49 passengers and includes a cozy cabin with a galley that serves snacks and beverages. Plus, it offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The smallest member of the fleet, the Angler Express, is designed to hold up to six passengers on private charters. All three vessels in the fleet are equipped with state-of-the-art safety and fish-finding equipment.
Atlantic Outfitters facilitates maritime excursions with its stable of paddle-propelled vessels. From the fiberglass-ensconced safety of two sleek kayaks, or from the commanding view afforded by two standup paddleboards, seafaring friends can spend two hours exploring the watery expanses, tributaries, and wooded shorelines of the pristine Manhasset Bay. During the journey, paddlers can picnic on the open water, use their feet as anchors in the shallows along sandy beaches, or reenact favorite scenes from a documentary about waterfowl. Numerous kayak launch sites along the coast provide easy access to the bay.
No matter the class, Twisters Gymnastics Center's instructors always make sure to pack their lessons with a hearty dose of encouragement. They inspire students of all ages and skill levels in a 6,200-square-foot gymnasium outfitted with an array of tumbling and gymnastics equipment, from balance beams and pommel horses to colorful tumbling obstacles and a foam pit. Their introductory Mommy & Me and Mini-Gym classes help kiddies build strength and develop muscle control, and their more advanced sessions, including competitive gymnastics, nurture students' desires to test their skills against others. Each child's safety is equally important as their physical development; every instructor is certified in basic first aid and CPR, is USGF-safety certified, and is proficient in scaring away grizzly bears with nothing but a glare.