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Center to Provide Mental Health Training

WEST HARTFORD — The Mandell Jewish Community Center will be offering youth mental health first aid training. Thanks to a grant from the Cigna Foundation.

The evidence-based Mental Health First Aid program will teach individuals how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders, officials said. The training will provide adults who regularly interact with young people, ages 12-18, “the knowledge and confidence needed to recognize crucial warning signs and symptoms of mental illness and the skills necessary to provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem.”

“While the Mandell JCC is known for its fitness, we recognize the important role mental health plays in overall wellbeing.  We also recognize that the conversation about mental health can be a sensitive discussion. There can be fear and stigma related to starting a conversation about mental health, but by teaching people how to identify, understand and respond to a mental health situation, we can help end the shame that keep so many from seeking the help they need,” said David Jacobs, Executive Director of the Mandell JCC.

“At Cigna, we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, and teaching people how to respond to a mental health crisis is just as important as training people in CPR,” said Wendy Sherry, president of Cigna Healthcare of Connecticut, Inc. “We are proud to collaborate with the Mandell JCC to bring this important, groundbreaking training to the Greater Hartford community.”

The JCC expects to train 350 Youth Mental Health First Aiders over the next year. Youth Mental Health First Aiders are adults who regularly interact with young people, ages 12-18, including; teachers, parents, family members, caregivers, neighbors, health & human service workers, school staff, community organizations, peers, clergy, police officers, firefighters, first responders, coaches, camp counselors, pediatricians and municipal professionals. To date, more than one million people across the United States have been trained in Mental Health First Aid.

The courses offered by the JCC will be taught by certified Mental Health First Aid instructors, Rebecca Ewald Krusinski and Johanna Peck.

Ms. Krusinski is a licensed clinical social worker with over 15 years in the mental health field. Ms. Peck has over 15 years of marketing experience in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Connecticut, She is well-versed in human resources and staff management situations. Her own personal life experiences led her to become a certified instructor in Mental Health First Aid.

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Parkland Students Take Last Leg of National Bus Tour to Newtown

By Clarice Silber

NEWTOWN — Activist students from Parkland, Florida made this Connecticut town the symbolic last stop of a nationwide bus tour on Sunday during their full-steam quest to galvanize young adults to vote for candidates who support stricter gun laws.

Survivors from the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took the stage with students from Newtown and other states Sunday to finish the March For Our Lives summer bus tour that spanned 50 cities.

Students of all ages stressed the need for tighter gun control, calling on youth to ensure that politicians who support the National Rifle Association and lax gun laws lose in November.

“There are too many empty beds in this nation,” Corin said. “Bullets do not discriminate against your race, religion, zip code, age or circumstance—taking new victims every day [while] we as a nation reside on the sideline.”Jaclyn Corin, who survived the Florida shooting that left 17 dead, told the crowd that students in Parkland and Newtown never expected that level of violence to touch their communities, but said both tragedies forced the nation to come together.

The rally took place about two miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators in 2012. Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-gun violence group formed by parents of children killed in the massacre, hosted the event that organizers said drew roughly 2,000 people.

Also among the crowd were Democratic political candidates attempting to garner further support before primary races on Tuesday.

Youth activists took turns addressing the crowd through speeches, songs, and poems intended to inspire people to get involved in the gun control movement.

At one point, people in the crowd were asked to raise their right hands and promise they would vote to change gun violence in the U.S.

Later, rallygoers roared when Yolanda Renee King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s nine-year-old granddaughter, led them in a chant that included the words, “We are going to be a great generation.”

Natalie Barden, who was 10 when her younger brother Daniel died in the Sandy Hook massacre, said that, for a long time, it was too difficult for her to participate in the conversation about gun control.

“Every voice makes the chorus of common sense louder,” Barden said. “We are all here today because no one should have to feel the life-shattering pain of losing a loved one to a gun.”

Barden was then joined on the stage by her father, Mark Barden, for an emotional performance of the country hit  “Humble and Kind” in memory of her brother.

The rally was held on the grounds of the former state psychiatric hospital, Fairfield Hills. It included booths for several anti-gun violence groups and one solely for voter registration.

Matt Deitsch, a 2016 graduate of the Parkland high school, said the tour was inspired by the labor movements that organized vulnerable young people to leadership positions and the 1961 Freedom Rides.

Newtown Action Alliance Chair Po Murray said the Parkland students understand that change will stem from voting power.

“We need to vote congressional members out of office who take money from the NRA,” Murray said. “If young people show up at the polls at midterms and every other election they can control what happens on Capitol Hill.”

Parkland activist Cameron Kasky said getting youth to register to vote is easy.

“Getting them to actually bother to vote is hard, and I think the young people in this country had a rude awakening this year and might just be showing up in some record numbers,” Kasky said.

This article was first published by

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CRT to Offer Free Summer Meals for Kids

HARTFORD — The Community Renewal Team will once again offer free breakfast and lunch to children in Hartford and Middlesex counties.

This important program provides this free service to students during the critical summer months when school is not in session.

“When school is out for the summer, children really need access to healthy, tasty breakfasts and lunches to supplement their daily nutritional needs,” said Gariann Chiarella, Director of Nutrition for CRT. “We are proud to once again be a part of this vital program that helps to prevent childhood hunger here in Central Connecticut. CRT has been a part of this annual program for over the past 20 years.”

More than 1,300 breakfasts per day will be served, and more than 1,900 lunches per day will be served.

CRT’s Summer Food Service Program will be offered in the following cities and towns: East Hartford, Enfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Hartford, Middletown, Portland, and Windsor Locks.

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Capital to Hold Summer Program

HARTFORD — Capital Community College will hold a summer computer science program for students.

The program for children 12 to 15 will provide an active and fun loving environment for students while introducing them to computer science, organizers said.

The program will run July 9 to July 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $200 per student. Need based scholarships are available for Hartford and East Hartford students.

Students will learn how to design and create webpages and mobile apps on Android smartphones.  They will also be introduced to a range of programming tools and will participate in leadership activities to build skills in team working problem solving critical thinking and presentation.

To apply, parents or guardians must complete an application at and send completed application forms to or mail to Summer  CS Programs, Capital Community College, 950 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103. Att: Seth Freeman

Posted in East Hartford, Hartford, YouthComments (0)


ActUp Theater Company to Present Hip Hop Remix, The Wiz

HARTFORD — The ActUp Theater Company will present The Wiz, a remixed hip-hop, reggae, jazz version of the legendary movie, The Wizard of Oz.

The event will be at Annie Fisher Magnet School, 280 Plainfield St. in Hartford on June 7 at 7 p.m., June 8 at 7 p.m. and June 9 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are from $15 to $25 and can be ordered online at the wizofoz@Eventbrite.ct

The Wiz was first presented on Broadway in 1974 and later made into a movie in 1978. It starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Act Up will showcase a multicultural cast or more than 50 inner city youth and community members.

The show includes famous songs such as “Ease on Down the Road”, “Be a Lion” and “Don’t Go Bring Me No Bad News”.  Choreography is by JusMove Studio.

For more information about ActUp Theater Inc, visit, or call Preistley Johnson at 860-918-8405, or email

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CRT’s YouthBuild Program Seeks Applicants

HARTFORD — The Community Renewal Team’s youth program is now accepting applications for its job training, education and leadership development program.

CRT’s Capital City YouthBuild AmeriCorps provides job training and life skills to young adults from 18 to 24 living in Hartford.

Those selected for the YouthBuild program learn job skills and serve the community by building affordable housing in partnership with Hartford Housing Authority and working with various construction companies throughout the region.

CRT provides YouthBuild participants with ongoing support to ensure that new graduates are successful in thier chosen career, organizers said.

For more information, or to apply for a position with CRT’s Capital City YouthBuild program, please call 860-560-5308 or email

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Champion of Children Award Recipients Named

HARTFORD — The Center for Children’s Advocacy has named Connecticut’s 2018 Champion of Children Award Recipients, to be honored at the Center’s annual Spring for Kids event at Infinity Hall, Hartford on May 8, 2018.

This year’s Champion of Children awards go to Fran Rabinowitz, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents; and Abdul-Rahmaan I. Muhammad, Executive Director of My People Clinical Services.

Fran Rabinowitz has been a dedicated and respected Connecticut educational leader for over 30 years. Prior to her appointment at CAPSS, she served Associate Commissioner of Education for the State of Connecticut, Superintendent of Hamden Public Schools, and Interim Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools.

Abdul-Rahmann Muhammad leads My People Clinical Services, a community-based social service organization that helps Hartford-area youth and families rebuild their lives. Services include therapeutic support and crisis intervention, helping youth overcome the impact of family disruption, domestic violence, substance abuse and other barriers to health and safety.

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American Legion to Hold Annual Youth Week

MIDDLETOWN —  The American Legion  will hold its annual state police youth week this July in Meriden.

State Police Youth Week  is a law enforcement practicum for high school students completing their junior year in 2018 at an accredited high school. SPYW will be held at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy in Meriden from July 8 to July 14. 

Organizers said the program offers insight into the training, duties and expectations of law enforcement officers. It also provides realistic experience, patterned after recruit training at the Connecticut State Police Academy and affords students considering a law enforcement career the opportunity to gain knowledge of the professional life of a police officer. 

SPYW cadets will participate in a variety of mentally and physically demanding instructional sessions, including patrol techniques, Connecticut criminal and motor vehicle laws, criminal and accident investigation, firearms safety and training, water safety training, team-building and confidence training, defensive driving techniques, and other law enforcement skill training. 

Cadets will experience the daily activities of recruit training, including the 5:15 a.m. reveille wake up call, physical conditioning, inspection of quarters, and participation in assigned details. 

Completed applications, including personal statements, recommendations and $125.00 fee, must be received by April 23, 2018.  

Selection date this year will be May 2, 2018. If you have not heard anything by the second week of May please contact the American Legion at 860-296-0719.

Visit for more information and application or contact your high school guidance counselor, school resource officer, local post of the American Legion or the American Legion Department Treasurer at 860-296-0719.

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Hartford Police Arrest Windsor Street Shooter

HARTFORD — Hartford Police arrested a local man who alleged fired shots on Windsor Street Thursday morning.

Police arrested Johnathan Smith, 24, of 195 Sigourney St. in Hartford for carrying a pistol without a permit, having weapons in a car, first degree attempted assault, reckless endangerment, unlawful discharge, and possession of a stolen firearm. The firearm was stolen from South Hadley, MA.

According to report, police responded to shots fired at 729 Windsor St. at 11:54 a.m. Thursday.

There were no victims.

However, witnesses reported that a gold Infinity pulled up to a parked black Lexus and the occupant of the gold Infinity shot at the black Lexus. Both cars then fled the scene.

While traveling south on Main Street Thursday, the suspect was spotted by a police officer . The suspect was stopped and removed from his car. Officers recovered the stolen firearm.

Posted in Hartford, YouthComments (0)

Hartford Mayor to Convene Meeting on Spiked Car Accidents

HARTFORD —  Mayor Luke Bronin will convene a meeting on Thursday with regional and state leaders to discuss the recent spike in car accidents and to call for a coordinated strategy to reduce car thefts by juveniles and young adults, which have been a factor in a number of fatal or serious crashes.


“There’s been a disturbing spike in vehicle crashes with fatalities or serious injuries, even as we’ve had fewer accidents overall in Hartford.  We’re particularly concerned about the role that both drugs and stolen vehicles are playing in these tragic incidents,” Bronin said.  “Our Police Department is working hard to make our streets safer through increased speed and DUI enforcement, but we need to work together as a region and as a State to crack down on car thefts.”

Bronin also referred to the number of cars stolen from West Hartford and New Britain that were involved in crashes in Hartford. These car thefts, he said, comprised of a regional problem that demands close coordination between towns, as well as with the State Police and with State and federal prosecutors.

According to the Hartford Police Department,  alcohol or other drugs played a role in at least half of the fatal accidents this year, and in two cases the vehicles involved were stolen.

In response to fatalities in January, the city increased its traffic enforcement this month, adding an additional roving DUI patrol and an additional speed enforcement patrol each weekend.  The State Department of Transportation has also agreed to accelerate three $50,000 traffic-related grants the City was expecting this year, which will pay for additional details focused on speed enforcement, distracted driving, and “Click It or Ticket.”

The City will receive the first of those grants, for speed enforcement, in March.


Posted in Hartford, Neighborhood, West Hartford, YouthComments (0)

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