Posts by Katiana Smith

Celebrating Achievement: POWER Graduation at Waterbury Youth Services


It was an afternoon of joyous celebrations and undeniable pride as 22 participants of the POWER program at Waterbury Youth Services completed their journey and graduated. A remarkable feat indeed as five among the 22 graduates have already opened their own licensed daycares, marking the commencement of their entrepreneurial journey in childcare.

The festive graduation ceremony saw families and friends cheering with pride, alongside Olivia Dudley, Director of Program Operations, and Trayvonn Diaz, Senior Outreach Assistant for Senator Chris Murphy. Diaz, who is also the son of POWER Facilitator Felicia Diaz, delivered an inspiring speech at the event.

The success of this year's graduates reflects the effectiveness of the POWER program in empowering its participants with self-determination and the skills to forge a successful career in childcare. It is a testament to the unwavering dedication and support of Waterbury Youth Services in nurturing the dreams of its participants and transforming them into a reality. As the celebrations concluded, one could not help but look forward to the accomplishments of future graduates. The POWER program continues to be a beacon of hope and empowerment, shedding light on the path to success for many more to come.

As the celebrations conclude, a hearty thank you is extended to United Way of Greater Waterbury, the program's sponsor, for their invaluable support. The POWER program continues to illuminate the path to success for many more to come.

Waterbury Youth Services: Elevating Expertise in Youth Mental Health

To further bolster the wellbeing of the community's youth, several Waterbury Youth Services staff completed an insightful Youth Mental Health training and First Aid session on Tuesday, May 9th. Provided by EdAdvance, the session was spearheaded by Diane Cassidy and Julia Puzone, in recognition of Mental Health Month.

EdAdvance, leading the charge in Mental Health Awareness and Training, collaborates closely with a wide range of partners, such as Apex Community Services, Greenwoods Counseling and Referral Services, and Western CT Coalition. Their collective objective is to provide pivotal programs like Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Teen Mental Health First Aid, and QPR Suicide Prevention Training.

The star of their program, Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), is a 7.5-hour masterclass that delves into identifying mental health issues in adolescents early, managing crisis and non-crisis situations, and reducing mental health stigma.

A shoutout to EdAdvance for keeping our staff trained and ready to serve our youth better!

Staywell Health Center Enlightens Youth on HIV and AIDS Awareness Day

When National HIV and AIDS Awareness Day rolled around, Staywell Health Center's prevention unit sprang into action with a presentation that was as informative as it was engaging. Leading the charge, Jackie, Kasim, and Tatiana delivered a presentation that provided valuable information to the youth in attendance.

They handed out engaging educational brochures packed with must-know facts and prevention strategies, hand sanitizers symbolizing the importance of hygiene, and comprehensive prevention kits for practical, everyday use.

Each youth left the presentation armed not just with knowledge, but with tangible tools to foster a healthy lifestyle. And beyond the facts and the figures, they left with a sense of empowerment, knowing they could make a difference in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The day was a testament to Staywell's innovative approach to health education, making a serious subject both fun and relatable to young minds. Knowledge became their superpower, turning HIV and AIDS Awareness Day into an unforgettable adventure in learning.

Quacktastic News: Duck Day Tickets Now on Sale!

Get ready to make a splash! We're thrilled to announce that tickets for the 18th Annual Duck Day Race Raffle are now on sale. Sponsored by Naugatuck Chamber, this fun-filled event promises a day packed with excitement, entertainment, and of course, a quack-tastic duck race.

Secure your chance to win a PRIZE! What's even better is that 50% ($2.50) of each ticket sold by us goes directly to Waterbury Youth Services, helping to fund their 16 transformative programs for Waterbury's youth. But don't delay – the deadline for ticket sales is May 18.

Join us on June 4 for a day of non-stop fun at the Duck Day event from 11am - 4pm. Curious about the event and the incredible prizes up for grabs? Visit Duck Day's Website for all the quacky details.

Ready to dive into the fun? Simply email Judy Perrin at to buy your ticket. Remember, the deadline for ticket sales is May 18!

Duck Day Flyer

Transforming Juvenile Justice: JRB Pros Dive into Advanced Restorative Training

Advance Restorative Justice Training

What happens when you combine dedicated Juvenile Review Board (JRB) Case Managers, Administrators, and Facilitators with an innovative training program? The answer: a powerful shift in the world of juvenile justice. Thanks to the Greater Danbury LIST, a two-day Advanced Restorative Justice Training at Waterbury Youth Services recently made waves in the field.

Led by expert trainers Joe Brummer and Justin Carbonella, participants delved into the realm of trauma-informed restorative justice. The training focused on replacing punitive approaches with a restorative mindset that steers clear of harmful and oppressive systems. How did they achieve this? By incorporating engaging games, activities, and circle processes that allowed JRB professionals to fully embrace the principles of trauma-informed restorative practices.

With newfound knowledge and experience, these transformed JRB pros are ready to champion a more compassionate, healing-centered approach to justice, setting the stage for a brighter future for our youth. So, let's cheer for this game-changing training, as it continues to revolutionize the field of juvenile justice and create a brighter future for our youth!

Local Agencies Join Hands for a Dynamic RED Community-Wide Meeting


Recently, community representatives joined forces for a lively Racial & Ethnic Disparities (RED) community-wide meeting, facilitated by Waterbury Youth Services (WYS). The goal was to analyze data on youth demographics in the juvenile justice system and school disciplinary practices and find ways to reduce the disproportionate effects on youth of color.

The meeting featured a powerful lineup of agencies, including Bridge To Success, Center for Children's Advocacy, CSSD, FAVOR, Waterbury DCF, Waterbury Juvenile Probation, Waterbury Police Department, Waterbury Public Schools, Waterbury Youth Services, and YMCA of Greater Waterbury.

Through data-driven discussions and spirited brainstorming, the participants identified areas of concern and proposed innovative solutions to decrease disparities. The united front of community leaders left the gathering with a renewed sense of determination and commitment to create a more equitable future for all youth. Together, we can make a difference.

STIRring Up Change: Spring Break in DC


Spring break is usually a time to kick back and relax, but for the students in Waterbury's STIR program, it was an opportunity to connect, learn, and ignite change. These high school juniors and seniors, along with their facilitator Jurea, embarked on an unforgettable trip to Washington DC to deepen their understanding of systemic racism and amplify their voices.

STIR, a free after-school program, provides an uncensored space for students to explore the history of systemic racism and learn about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). As part of their journey, the group visited the National Museum of African American History, where the exhibits brought the stories in their focus book, "Stamped" by Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi, to life.

But STIR isn't just about learning history; it's about empowering these young minds to create positive change in their community. By connecting with anti-racist leaders and initiatives in Waterbury, the students are laying the groundwork for a more inclusive future.

One of the program's most exciting projects is a documentary that captures the students' experiences, learnings, and personal growth. This visual testimony will be shared with their peers, spreading awareness and inspiring others to join the fight against racism.

So, while some may have spent their spring break on the beach, these young leaders were busy STIRring up change, proving that knowledge is power and that our youth hold the key to a brighter, more inclusive tomorrow.

Passion Meets Purpose: WYS Advocates at YSB Day!


On April 26th, 2023, Waterbury Youth Services (WYS) team members Dominiqua, Rasheeda, and Olivia attended the Connecticut Youth Services Association (CYSA) YSB Day at the Capitol in Hartford, CT. They met with legislators to emphasize the crucial role that Youth Service Bureaus (YSBs) play in our communities.

Thanks to CYSA's leadership and support, WYS is proud to be designated by the State of Connecticut as the Youth Service Bureau serving the City of Waterbury. Together, we work tirelessly to promote the well-being of the state's children, youth, and families.

Our dedicated team advocated for the support and funding of YSBs, highlighting their importance in providing essential services and resources to young people. Our team members' passion for their work left a lasting impact on legislators and fellow YSB advocates.

The efforts of our WYS team at YSB Day have the potential to positively influence countless families across the state. Our collective dedication to the cause is truly commendable and inspires us all to strive for a better future for Connecticut's children, youth, and families.

Waterbury Youth Services Ignites a Passion for Learning at Youth Health, Wellness and Financial Reality Fair


Local Youth Empowered with Essential Knowledge for Healthy and Financially Responsible Lives

On April 12th, Waterbury Youth Services (WYS) captivated the crowds with their dynamic presence at the Youth Health, Wellness and Financial Reality Fair. Hosted by the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board (NRWIB), the fair aimed to equip local youth with the vital tools they need to lead healthy, financially responsible lives.

WYS volunteers Akeem, Dominiqua, Olivia, and Judy infused their passion and expertise into the events, turning the WYS information table into a hotspot of engaging resources for the youth. Their infectious energy and dedication made the day both entertaining and informative. Collaboratively, they showcased Waterbury Youth Services' programs that promote mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

In the Youth Health & Wellness component of the fair, the WYS team showcased their organization's dedication to the holistic health of local young people. The diverse range of resources and activities at their table demonstrated how WYS effectively addresses the various dimensions of well-being, promoting a healthy lifestyle for the community's youth.

The Financial Reality component offered young attendees a unique opportunity to explore personal finance through an interactive, hands-on simulation. WYS volunteers, along with other local organizations, guided participants as they navigated the challenges of real-world financial situations. This engaging approach to financial education appealed to teens and provided them with valuable insights into the complexities of managing money.

Waterbury Youth Services extends its heartfelt gratitude to the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board for hosting this transformative fair. By providing a dynamic stage for learning and empowerment, NRWIB has made a meaningful impact on the lives of the community's youth.

Lupines to Bloom at Waterbury Youth Services for Earth Day


Waterbury Youth Services (WYS) extends heartfelt gratitude to the dedicated volunteers from the United Way of Greater Waterbury, the Small Manufacturers Association of Connecticut (SMA), and staff from Unipharm, Inc. and Click Bond, Inc. who brought the spirit of community and environmental stewardship to life on Earth Day. Their hard work will transform WYS grounds into a colorful, inviting landscape.

On April 21st, the enthusiastic group planted vibrant lupine bulbs in front of WYS, symbolizing the growth and potential of the youth who benefit from our programs. These committed volunteers, all SMA members, also landscaped the property, ensuring that WYS's grounds are as inspiring as the services provided to the community's youth. Their hard work and dedication highlight the importance of collaboration and community involvement.

As the lupines bloom, they'll serve as a constant reminder of the power of community spirit and collaboration.

Margaret Mead's words, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has," ring true for the lupine planting and landscaping project at WYS, demonstrating the power of community in creating a better world, one lupine at a time.