Free Program Teaching Kindergarten through Second Graders Social and Emotional Life Skills Available at Meadowlands Family Success Center in Little Ferry

Little Ferry, N.J. (January 4, 2023) – NJ4S Bergen, a comprehensive mental wellness program for students and families led by Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS), will be holding a free educational storytelling program called Forest Friends at the Meadowlands Family Success Center, every Tuesday from January 2 until February 6, at 3:30 to 4:30 PM.

The Forest Friends program helps students from kindergarten to second grade learn important social and emotional life skills. This program is part of the NJ DCF grant-funded NJ4S program in Bergen County, which aims to make prevention and clinical services easily available to over 133,000 students in all 79 of Bergen County’s school districts.

Forest Friends is an evidence-informed curriculum for students in kindergarten through second grade, focusing on mental health, well-being, and positive peer relationships. Through each 45 minute session, the program utilizes puppets to help students learn various social-emotional life skills. In every session, the students are told a story using the Forest Friends puppets covering the following topics: feelings and communication, honesty and trust, respect, self-image/self-esteem, decision-making, and diversity. A discussion and related activity follows each story and parents are engaged through a parent letter that is sent home every session.

“Early engagement is critical for children, to help them establish healthy habits, fortify their mental health and equip them with skills to effectively navigate challenges that they’ll face as they get older,” said John Paul Simon, assistant director of NJ4S Bergen Hub. “The Forest Friends program helps children learn these essential life skills in a way that’s both fun and engaging, making this educational program more effective in instilling these skills than simply lecturing would be.”

Forest Friends is part of NJ4S Bergen’s tier 1 programming, which focuses on prevention and comprises a range of educational and skill-building programs. This programming is open to all students in K-12th grade and their parents, as well as school faculty and community members. Tier 1 programs are available at schools, community centers, municipal buildings, libraries, faith-based centers, boys and girls clubs, Family Success Centers and Family Support Organizations.

Although the program has multiple sessions, attendees are free to attend any number of sessions they wish. The upcoming weekly Forest Friends sessions will be held from 3:30-4:30 pm on the following dates:

January 9, 2024

January 16, 2024

January 23, 2024

January 30, 2024

February 6, 2024

To register for the program, call Meadowlands Family Success Center at 201-464-4714.

To learn more about NJ4S Bergen, visit or follow NJ4S Bergen on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. For more information on the NJ Statewide Student Support Services Network (NJ4S), visit

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