From the Coordinator

Cindy Carraway-Wilson

Cindy Carraway-Wilson

Greetings to practice partners and friends interested in positive youth development and sexuality education! As we send out our first newsletter, TOP® in CT clubs are in full swing. We’re excited to announce we’ve added several new host sites in our 4th year of the project, as well as new referral sources. In addition, we’d like to introduce two new TOP® facilitators — Masio Williams and Nesha Ocasio! Masio is the primary facilitator for our community-based clubs in Norwich, and Nesha facilitates community-based clubs in Meriden and Waterbury, as well as the girls club at Raymond Hill School. Please join us in welcoming these two new talented staff members to the TOP® in CT program!

Wondering what we’ve been up to? Read below for an update about this year’s clubs and our trip to the Healthy Teen Network Conference last October.

New this year, we’ve added community-based sites to our list of TOP® in CT clubs. These clubs are located in Hartford, Meriden, Norwich, Hamden, and Waterbury and receive referrals from therapeutic foster care providers. We have six linkage agreements with new organizations including: Community Residences Inc., Family and Children’s Aid, Jewish Family Services, The Institute for Professional Practice, Waterford Country Day and Wheeler Clinic. In addition, we added another two groups homes, one in Bristol and one in Anchorage. We are very excited to have these additions to our TOP® Network in the state.

We are now about halfway through our 4th year, and young people are busy working through the Changing Scenes curriculum with facilitators. Facilitators report that the lessons are going well and young people appear to be responding positively to club materials. Many clubs are also planning their Community Service Learning (CSL) projects at this time. So far, young people have dedicated their time this year to making holiday cards for overseas troops, serving food at local soup kitchens and making coloring books for children in shelters. Larger projects like fundraising field days and international food fairs are also in the works!

In addition a few clubs are participating in the Call Me Whatever campaign, which began last year as a poster contest supporting tolerance and acceptance—two club members who entered last year won awards for their submissions, which are now hanging in the Tolerance Museum in New York City. Congratulations! CSL projects are planned by the young people themselves and there’s no limit to the good they can accomplish in their communities.

Finally, last October, full-time TOP® facilitators Cecelia Christmas, Deb Milano, James Huckabey, and Matt Hard, joined Klingberg’s Clinical Director Christine Keys and I in Savannah, GA at the Healthy Teen Network conference. Everyone attended two days of workshops focusing on sexuality education and youth engagement, while Christine and I presented a 90-minute workshop on the use of trauma informed approaches in teen pregnancy prevention. Our workshop was so full we had people listening from the hallway! The popularity of this workshop demonstrates increasing awareness in the field of the impact of trauma on young people’s educational engagement. It was also a wonderful opportunity for the team to share meals and ‘time off’ with each other. We walked around Savannah and had great conversations.

~ Cindy Carraway-Wilson, TOP® in CT Director and Director of Training