Money from omnibus bill goes to youth development programs | Best Stories


WATERBURY — Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, recently announced that $105,000 secured through the 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill will fund mindfulness workshops for eight after-school positive youth development programs in Waterbury.

The senator spoke to members of the press gathered at the United Way of Greater Waterbury offices on Monday, May 2, as they learned about how mindfulness focuses on self-awareness, which is one of the five core skills of social-emotional learning; the other four are self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Mindfulness as a complementary tool to social-emotional learning can help young people learn important social and emotional skills with non-judgmental attention to thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the present moment.

“At a time when discord and strife are all too pervasive, Waterbury will provide a model for the country,” Senator Blumenthal said. “It sounds elementary, but it’s far from simple to achieve.”

He continued: “This kind of social and emotional learning is critically important in today’s world. I am very proud and excited to be here with Centraide.

Describing the funding as an investment in the education system, Senator Blumenthal explained that United Way of Greater Waterbury would sponsor and lead the eight programs.

“United Way is a critically important organization as part of our social fabric. He is now committed to this program, which expands the reach and depth of the community by providing services and enabling more young people to fulfill their potential,” he said.

Jason Martinez, vice president of community impact for the United Way of Greater Waterbury, told those present at the press conference that around 300 young people in the City of Waterbury would have access to mindfulness activities outside of the classroom.

“They can improve their self-control. They can reduce stress and anxiety, and we all know how essential that is right now. We are very grateful for this opportunity,” he said.

Martinez said the programs would encompass traditional after-school programs like scouting and youth mentoring, as eight partner agencies are trained in how to provide mindfulness opportunities.

As the United Way moves forward with this work, partner agencies including the Boys & Girls Club of Waterbury, Girl’s, Inc., Western Connecticut Waterbury Chapter, Girls Scouts of Connecticut Waterbury Chapter, and Greater Waterbury YMCA have already signed letters of support.

Activities will begin in the fall of 2022 and will be open to any student who participates in positive youth development programs.

Sen Blumenthal noted, “After going through these two absolutely horrific years of grief and hardship, students need to come together in a way that they can build resilience and overcome stress and anxiety and work with other children to share their experiences.

“Amorphous as it may seem, if done in the right way, it can accomplish such great good.”

Mr Martinez explained that this community need came to the fore after United Way met with the Superintendent of Waterbury Public Schools, program providers, parents and children.

He added that United Way of Greater Waterbury encompasses an area of ​​10 towns, including Bethlehem, Cheshire, Middlebury, Prospect, Southbury, Thomaston, Watertown, Wolcott and Woodbury.

“Our goal is actually to find a way to expand that. In fact, we just submitted the next round of congressional appropriations to do just that.

“Our students need this help. We are going through a mental health crisis statewide, in fact, nationwide. Senator Blumenthal concluded.


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