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Making a Difference – Shadow Dance Troupe Catapult Teams with the YMCA

Wondering what “America’s Got Talent” season 8 competitors Catapult is up to? The shadow dance group has teamed with the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) for a series of videos (shown below) showcasing the many ways the Y supports youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. As one of the largest non-profits in the country, the Y helps people of all ages, incomes, background and abilities learn, grow and thrive through a breadth of programs and services—many of them free of charge.

Supporting Our Neighbors:


Healthy Living:


Nurturing Potential of Today’s Youth:

Here are some of the Y programs featured in the Catapult collaboration:

  • Afterschool Programs: The Y has the largest afterschool program in the nation that focuses on safety, health, social skills and education for children, so they can learn new things and achieve academic success.
  • Chronic Illness Prevention: Healthy living is about more than just exercise, it is about overall well-being. Chronic illness prevention programs like the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program can be an invaluable resource in maintaining good health outside of a medical setting.
  •  Healthier Communities Initiatives: This Y program helps communities make changes to support healthier living opportunities for residents, from safe walking routes to bringing fresh fruit and vegetables to communities lacking healthy food options.
  • Hunger Prevention: Dedicated to helping children grow healthy and strong, the Y’s hunger prevention program delivers millions of meals to children across the country each year.
  • Family Time: The Y’s programs for families provide opportunities to deepen relationships, find new skills and interests, improve their health and well-being and connect to the community. Staying connected with the Y can help families become stronger, healthier and happier, as a family unit and as individuals.
  • Swim, Sports and Play: Being active through the Y has benefits beyond physical health, especially for children. Learning to swim boosts confidence, participating in team sports teaches the character and social skills that make good leaders, and play helps children develop healthy habits and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The Y is more than a place, it is a cause dedicated to strengthening communities and providing opportunities for people from all walks of life to reach their full potential. Check out the Catapult videos and learn more about how the Y is making a difference at

What to Do When You Suspect Child Abuse

Onslaught of Cases Prompts Advocate to Share Tips for Recognizing, Reporting Abuse

child abuse

Crying Girl

The news reports are as shocking as they are relentless:

An Army sergeant in Maryland charged with 1st-degree child abuse, accused of starving, beating and burning her 4-year-old stepdaughter.

A North Carolina Child Protective Services supervisor and her husband, a nurse, arrested after their 11-year-old foster son is found handcuffed to a porch railing with a dead chicken tied around his neck.

Three malnourished sisters in Arizona, ages 12, 13 and 17, kept locked in their bedrooms for up to two years. Neighbors reported they sometimes heard children’s voices at the house at night, but never saw anyone during the day.

“These are just a few of the most recent stories you’ll find about child abuse around the country,” says Rayne Golay, a mental health counselor, children’s advocate, and award-winning author of a newly published novel, The Wooden Chair, (, which she hopes will prompt witnesses to speak up about  suspected abuse and neglect.

“These cases remind us that child abusers can look like upstanding members of society. They can be your very nice neighbor, a trusted professional, the guy at the grocery store.”

In the case of the Army sergeant, Golay notes that an observant schoolteacher spoke up about her concerns, which led to the arrest of the child’s stepmother. The three sisters in Arizona, however, were not discovered until the two youngest girls escaped after their stepfather kicked in their bedroom door and threatened them with a knife.

“Neighbors said they’d heard children at night, but never saw them,” Golay says. “Wouldn’t you call that suspicious?”

She offers these suggestions for recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse.

• Don’t be afraid to be wrong.  You don’t need to have hard evidence or proof of child abuse or neglect to report your concerns. If you’re wrong, social workers and investigators will soon discover that and close the case. It might be uncomfortable for the alleged abuser and he or she may get angry. But you can report anonymously, and it’s far better to risk someone taking offense or social workers finding no evidence of abuse than for a child to suffer because no one speaks up.

• Actions often speak volumes. Does a young child cringe, raise an arm defensively or try to hide when her mother turns to her? These behaviors can be the reflexive response of a child who’s frequently hit. Do you know a child who has become withdrawn, had a persistent loss of appetite, or started doing poorly in school? Changes in behavior may signal a variety of emotional problems, including abuse and neglect. What about witnessing an adult lose their patience with a child at a store or other public place in a manner that seems over-the-top? If it appears to be an emergency, call 911, Golay says. Otherwise, try to defuse the situation. “You might smile at the parent and say something like, ‘It can be so hard to bring kids shopping. I remember it well.’ Scolding or criticizing will only make the situation worse, but attention and understanding words may calm the person.”

• How to report your concerns? If you want to talk to a professional crisis counselor before making a report, call Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). While counselors cannot file a report for you, they can answer your questions, provide information about resources, and discuss the situation that has drawn your concern. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  To report abuse, each state has a toll-free number; find the list at If you witness a situation that requires an immediate law enforcement response, call 911.

“Whatever you do,” says Golay, “do something.”

“We’re all very aware of child abuse and neglect, but still, most people continue to hang back and say or do nothing when they have concerns,” she says. “This is not acceptable. We all have a duty to keep our children safe.”

About Rayne E. Golay

Rayne E. Golay is a certified drug and alcohol counselor whose work with addicts informs her understanding and insights into the consequences of child abuse. She has a Master’s in Psychology and is a lifelong reader and writer. The Wooden Chair, published in 2013 by Untreed Reads, won the Royal Palm Literary Award for mainstream literature in the 2005 Florida Writers Association’s competition.  She hopes that this story inspires witnesses to speak up for children whom they suspect are suffering from any form of abuse and/or neglect.

ONLY MAKE BELIEVE – Bringing Laughter & Imagination to Children In Hospitals and Care Facilities

Featured On NBC Nightly News, Here:

Featured in The Wall Street Journal, Here:

Only Make Believe

Only Make Believe – Bringing Laughter & Imagination to Children

New York, NY/Washington, D.C. – June 11, 2013 – Only Make Believe is the New York City and newly, Washington D.C., based non-profit organization that brings laughter and imagination to children suffering from chronic illnesses and disabilities. Since 1999, this organization has brought interactive theater performed by professional actors to over 35,000 children and families in 52 hospitals in the NYC metro area and 3 hospitals in the D.C. area. With celebrity support from Jude Law, Mike Myers, Sir Ian McKellen, Julia Stiles, Rachel Weisz, Alan Cumming, Kathie Lee Gifford, Chistopher Meloni, Petra Nemcova, and more, Only Make Believe has brought joy and hope to the hearts of families and children facing hard times. With the recent opening of their Washington D.C. sector, they have already brought the healing power of laugher to almost 300 children in Washington D.C. within one year and do not plan to stop now! For more information on the organization, please visit:

Dena Hammerstein founded the non-profit Only Make Believe in 1999 in memory of her late husband, Broadway producer and director James Hammerstein, son of Oscar Hammerstein part of the legendary musical writing and composing duo Rodgers and Hammerstein. The organization was created to bring live interactive theater free-of-charge to children living with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Only Make Believe provides theatrical workshops conducted by teams of professional actors, once a week for six weeks, free-of-charge to hospitals and other medical institutions.

Only Make Believe’s interactive live performances encourage children to participate and perform alongside actors, transporting them from a hospital to the enchanting world of make believe. Director of Child Life at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center explained, “It was truly wonderful to see the patients clapping, singing and dancing to the music when often times we just see them lying in bed.” While Only Make Believe does wonders to help bring happiness to the lives of children suffering from chronic illness and disease, it also helps to bring joy back into the hearts of parents. One parent explained, “After each play, I feel like a new person who’s ready to face life. This show helps me gain my sense of humor again.” For children and their families, Only Make Believe strives to uphold the principle that freeing a child’s imagination is a valuable part of the healing process.

For more information, please visit: