News

A Glimpse into Our United Effort in Mental Health Training

Adult First Aid Mental Health Training

Our dedicated team at Waterbury Youth Services just completed the Adult Mental Health First Aid Course in collaboration with EdAdvance. This training session was held right at our agency, and we were thrilled to welcome representatives from Western CT Area Agency on Aging, Center for Human Development, Greater Waterbury Ymca, and more.

This training is a game-changer, enabling us to recognize, understand, and adeptly respond to mental health and substance use challenges. We're now better equipped than ever to make a positive impact in our community.

And guess what? Every attendee walked away with their certification! This is more than just a training session; it's a step forward in our commitment to provide the best possible support to those we serve.

Together, we're making a difference.

Waterbury Youth Services Wins Prestigious CYSA Award for Program of the Year!

CYSA’s Best Program of the Year

It's a proud moment for all of us here at Waterbury Youth Services as we celebrate being named the Connecticut Youth Services Association (CYSA) Award for Program of the Year.

Receiving the CYSA Program of the Year award for our Out-of-School Suspension (OSS) program is more than an honor for us at Waterbury Youth Services—it's a beacon of what's possible when community, care, and commitment come together. In Connecticut, institutions such as Youth Service Bureaus (YSBs) serve as a backbone to our communities. Guided by the General Statue section 10-19m, YSBs collaborate across towns and cities, ensuring a cohesive support system for children, youth, and their families. The core mission is simple yet profound: to guide the younger generation toward growth, enabling them to engage effectively within their communities.

Our journey began with a vision to reshape the narrative for youth caught in the cycle of out-of-school suspensions. In May 2021, after discussions with staff from Waterbury Public Schools, we set out to confront this challenge not with punitive measures, but with an approach rooted in understanding, support, and engagement. Our program was designed to re-engage students in their educational journey, offering tailored academic guidance and behavior support strategies.

The results speak for themselves. Last year, we embraced 127 referrals and proudly saw 90% of these students avoid any further suspensions. It is not just about numbers; it's about the positive turn we've witnessed in these young lives.

Our expansion from one middle school initiative to a program spanning four schools demonstrates the demand and effectiveness of our method. Every day, we welcome 5 to 12 students, guiding them to align with their academic work and navigate their social environments constructively.

This recognition underscores the collaborative effort of our team, the students' perseverance, and the community's support. As we celebrate, our focus remains steadfast on the future—One Life at a Time.

Learn more about our Out-of-School Suspension (OSS) program here.

Celebrating A Summer Of Discovery: Our Summer Camp Recap

Summer Camp 2023

Our recent summer camp was a lively blend of learning and play, bringing together 62 spirited youth for unforgettable experiences. Each day was an array of activities, shared laughter, and memories that will be cherished for years to come.

Key to our success were the generous contributions from ESSER Funds, United Way Camperships, and the Joyce P. Lyons and Schwab Foundation. Their support ensured that every child could partake in the camp without any financial barriers.

Every Monday, Mindfulness Arise transformed the camp's atmosphere, providing grounding sessions that nurtured a positive mental space. Adventure was a daily theme, with explorative nature walks, Girl Scouts, creative crafting of tie-dyed canvas bags, and puzzle making and visits to Roller Magic.

As we wrapped up the camp, feedback was clear: swimming, roller skating, and painting were the most favorite activities.

With such a fulfilling summer behind us, we are already gearing up for next year's adventures. Here's to another summer bursting with exploration, happiness, and memories!

Celebrating Service: A Day of Impact

UNITED WAY DAY OF CARING 2023

On September 7th, United Way's annual Day of Caring highlighted the significant impact of community service. United Way's Day of Caring, established in 1992, has always been a symbol of community strength and service.

The team from Thomaston Savings Bank, consisting of Robert Frazee, Antonella Calabrese, Amber Pinette, and Patrick Quinn, dedicated their day to Waterbury Youth Services. The office of our Positive Youth Development Team Leader underwent a transformation, with fresh paint and a well - organized layout for our program areas — all completed in a day.

Our special gratitude goes out to Arianna Motta, United Ways Volunteer Engagement Manager, and the team of volunteers from Thomaston Savings Bank. Both the commitment of Thomaston Savings Bank's volunteers and the unwavering support of United Way are emblematic of our community's collaborative spirit. Their combined efforts not only transformed a space but also demonstrated the potential of collective action.

*Pictured above from left: Robert Frazee, Antonella Calabrese, Amber Pinette, and Patrick Quinn.

26th Annual Back to School Rally: Another Year, Another Success!

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Waterbury Youth Services' "Backpacks to Brilliance" theme was in full swing at the 26th Annual Back to School Rally on August 16 at Fulton Park. Our success was shaped by the collaborative spirit of our dedicated staff, the City of Waterbury, the Department of Education, our enthusiastic volunteers, 50 community allies, and our generous sponsors. Through our collective efforts, we presented a wealth of school supplies and showcased essential resources for the youth of Waterbury.

Approximately 1,500 enthusiastic attendees were met with an outpouring of academic supplies and resources. The distribution of 1,400 backpacks and 500 books ensured our youth are well-equipped for their academic journeys. Raffles featured school supplies, filled book bags, gift cards, books, and unique art kits.

Olivia Dudley, Co-chair of the event, alongside Paul Pernerewski, Jr., President of the Waterbury Board of Aldermen, Quineshia Brown, Family and Community Engagement Manager of Waterbury Public Schools and Jim O'Rourke, Interim Executive Director of Waterbury Youth Services, took to the stage. Their brief yet heartfelt words underscored the value of education and the integral role our community plays in fostering it. Complementing the speeches, Fitness Fury and Empress delivered captivating performances.

Luis Aguilar, representing DJ Double L, infused the atmosphere with lively and classic tunes, setting the perfect upbeat tempo for the event. Meanwhile, the iconic Frankie’s Hot Dogs served attendees their signature hot dogs. In a new addition to the day's activities, guests had the unique opportunity to contribute to a community mural. This artistic endeavor was expertly guided by Katiana Jarbath Smith of Jarbath Art, in collaboration with Waterbury Youth Services, and the finished mural will hold a place of pride at the agency.

We express our deepest gratitude to our invaluable sponsors and partners: In alphabetical order, City of Waterbury, Comcast, Connecticut Community Foundation, Connecticut Department of Corrections, Drew Marine, First Congregational Church of Cheshire, Frankie’s, HNTB, Savings Bank of Danbury, TD Bank, The Home Depot, Thomaston Savings Bank, Waterbury Dept. of Education, Waterbury Hospital, and WATR for making this event a resonating success!

For any further inquiries or details, please contact Olivia Dudley at Waterbury Youth Services (203)573-0264.

A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Waterbury Youth Services consistently serves over 1,000 youth and their families every year. Offering a diverse range of 15 programs, WYS continues to lead in areas such as Juvenile Justice, Mentoring, Truancy Prevention, support for Youth Experiencing Homelessness, Youth & Family Emergency Services, After-School Programs, and the Child Advocacy Center.

Waterbury Youth Services is a haven for youth, where they are celebrated, understood, and empowered. Offering myriad opportunities, WYS ensures that every young individual is geared to explore their potential and achieve their dreams. Whenever guidance is sought, Waterbury Youth Services stands ready.

RELIVE THE MEMORIES! Dive into our vibrant photo gallery below featuring our spirited volunteers, eager students with their families, enthusiastic community organizations, and speakers.

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Announcing Our 26th Annual Back To School Rally

2023 BTSR Graphic

Get ready to launch into the new academic year with Waterbury Youth Services' 26th Annual Back to School Rally! Themed "Backpacks to Brilliance," we're joining hands with the City of Waterbury and the Waterbury Department of Education to transform Fulton Park into an epicenter of excitement and education on Wednesday, August 16th, 2023, from 12pm to 2pm.

This year's theme, "Backpacks to Brilliance," is all about lighting the spark of intellectual curiosity and promoting literacy among our young learners. Each backpack handed out will be a stepping stone, a personal launchpad to an exciting voyage of discovery and learning.

The entrance to this event is at Pine St. To ensure every child receives their bundle of brilliance, they must be present at the event. And remember, it's a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to arrive early!

Come rain or shine, Fulton Park will be a bustling hub of live entertainment, useful resources for kids and parents, and of course, those brilliant backpacks and school supplies.

But our Back to School Rally offers more than just a fantastic day out. It serves as a testament to our commitment to community outreach. There will be free food, entertainment, and so much more. With over 30 non-profit organizations and local businesses showcasing their services, it's a shining example of our Waterbury community's dedication to ensuring our children's success, in school and beyond.

So, on August 16th, join us at Fulton Park, and together, let's turn each backpack into a beacon of brilliance, propelling our young learners towards a future rich with knowledge and achievement. Let's celebrate the joy of learning, promote literacy, and set our kids on the path to brilliance!

Uniting for Inclusion: Dominiqua and the All Inclusive Club Empower the School Community

JRB Victim Engagement Training

On May 31st, Waterbury Youth Services was a hub of insightful energy during the Juvenile Review Board (JRB) Victim Engagement Training.

Trainer Amy Rosenthal led us into the profound realms of victim engagement, diving into the depth of restorative and trauma-informed practices. Her vivid session was an enlightening journey for all attendees.

The training welcomed a diverse mix of representatives from the Office of Victim Services and JRBs from various towns including Naugatuck, Bridgeport, New Haven, Norwich, Hartford, Wethersfield, Middletown, and more. Their contributions enhanced the richness of the discussions, making the day a melting pot of experiences and insights.

The impact of this event echoes our mission: to build an increasingly empathetic and effective juvenile justice system. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to explore and grow together.

Bridging Gaps, Building Understanding: A Look at the JRB Victim Engagement Training

JRB Victim Engagement Training

On May 31st, Waterbury Youth Services was a hub of insightful energy during the Juvenile Review Board (JRB) Victim Engagement Training.

Trainer Amy Rosenthal led us into the profound realms of victim engagement, diving into the depth of restorative and trauma-informed practices. Her vivid session was an enlightening journey for all attendees.

The training welcomed a diverse mix of representatives from the Office of Victim Services and JRBs from various towns including Naugatuck, Bridgeport, New Haven, Norwich, Hartford, Wethersfield, Middletown, and more. Their contributions enhanced the richness of the discussions, making the day a melting pot of experiences and insights.

The impact of this event echoes our mission: to build an increasingly empathetic and effective juvenile justice system. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to explore and grow together.

Celebrating Achievement: POWER Graduation at Waterbury Youth Services

POWER GRADUATION 2023

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!