Explore CT Young Adult Programs & Events
Each month, TurningPointCT.org will visit, host and/or participate in young adult events all over Connecticut. From visits to access centers to local poetry slams, we’ve got it covered. Check out our featured events here– keep up with what young adult groups all over the state are up to.
Written by Bryanna P. of Brien McMahon High School
Senior Year 2018
Written by a Brien McMahon High School senior and vlogger Bryanna (Click here to see the amazing vlog her and her friends Fatima and Ashley made – their vlog is called FAB)
Thank you Bryanna!
Going back to school anhttps://vimeo.com/272651779d realizing I’m a senior didn’t get
real until I wrote “seniors” in red white and blue on the back of my car window the day before the first day of school.
Going back to school and being a girl, of course, I prepared my outfits, got all of my school supplies ready, and obviously made sure I didn’t forget my headphones.
Sleeping was always difficult for me the night before the first day of school because I always get excited and anxious to see all of my friends and teachers.
As the sun rose and the birds began chirping I jumped outta bed and into the shower as I began my journey as a senior for Brien McMahon. I texted my best friends and asked them to send me pictures of their outfits as we also planned to meet each other at Donut Delight. Pulling into Donut Delight with the music blasting we all decided to be typical corny teens and followed each other to school after buying our morning coffees and bagels.
Seeing all of the school buses and the hundreds of students getting out made things seem a little bit more real.
Luckily for me, one of my best friends and I had homeroom together so I wasn’t alone walking in on my last first day of high school.
I was nervous to receive my schedule but once I saw the classes I was taking I was even more excited about the school year.
Being that for the past three years I’ve taken honors and AP classes and stressed over test and homework, having a more relaxing schedule made it feel well deserved on my part.
Going to all of my classes and seeing that my friends were in them made me realized that this year was going to be full of fun and laughter.
One thing that caught me off guard was all of the rules that had been changed over the summer.
We now have five minutes of passing time in the hallway and four thirty minute lunch waves. One of the major changes that were made were the collecting of our cell phones being done by the teachers.
Personally, I didn’t mind these changes because for the most part I was never late to class nor was I on my phone, at least not always. I respect my principal for wanting the best for us as he tries to create a better learning environment.
On the first day of school, we got the annual senior assemblies were our principal and housemaster talked about the successful year that would be coming ahead of us.
This is the year of college applying and saying goodbye to some of the people whom we have grown up with since elementary school.
This was the year full of bittersweet moments and emotions and I noticed that when the day was over and we all took group pictures.
One of the things that I am most excited about is seeing where all of my friends commit to a college. I am also excited for winter dances, senior prom, and of course our senior skip day.
One piece of advice that I would give to any freshmen anywhere in the world would be to stay focused, create a plan, and stick with the plan through the end. I would tell them to have fun and don’t stress over the little things. There are going to be times where you think about completely giving up and not caring about school but don’t give up because it will all pay off in the end. I would tell them to join as many clubs as possible and create memories that will stay with you forever because it’s true what they say, high school goes by fast and before you know it you will be a senior just like me, entering the first day of high school excited to realize that in just 10 months I will be graduating with the class of 2019.
Chill Zone – New Haven Young Adult Services at Marrakech, inc
The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DHMAS) serves young adult through a program called YAS (Young Adult Services).
Marrakech, inc is one of the agencies that serves young people who receive services from DHMAS (young people with mental illness and addiction who qualify).
On Friday, Ally and I (Eliza!) visited The Chill Zone, which is a drop in center for young adults who receive YAS services. The Chill Zone is run by Marrakech, but is open to all young adults (18-29) who receive services from Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC West Haven).
Read on to learn about the Chill Zone and our fun day in New Haven!
On a Warm and breezy Friday morning, bloggers Ally and Eliza greeted staff and young adults from Marrakech at Goffe Street Park in New Haven for a Summer kickball game and cookout.
TurningPointCT.org bloggers Eliza (me!) and Ally were invited to visit the Chill Zone in New Haven and see what it’s like to be a young adult receiving services from YAS (Young Adult Services) and West Haven CMHC (Connecticut Mental Health Center)! Luckily for me, that wasn’t too hard to do- at nineteen years old, DCF (the Department of Children and Families) transferred me to DHMAS (Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services), where I was placed in one of Marrakech’s residential homes in New Haven. I began to see a therapist at West Haven CMHC, and when the Chill Zone was created, I even created their logo (It’s the Penguin above!) While I still commute from Norwalk to New Haven for occasional appointments, I have nearly graduated the program and was so excited to come and write about the Chill Zone from the perspective of both a Young Adult having received services, and as a TurningPointCTorg blogger.
Our Day began at Goffe street park, where we watched Marrakech staff and young adults play against each other in a kickball game. As we stood on the sidelines, we watched everyone laughing, running, and cheering for each other. During the two hour game, everything was happy- and for a moment we could all forget that we were struggling with our own issues and enjoy the warmth and fun of the day.
“When you connect with people to a level that you guys start being really good friends… you’re family. Unfortunately my family isn’t there for me, except for my sister, but I consider (people here) as my sisters”
-Zhane, a young adult who receives services from Marrakech
After the game wrapped up, Ally and I headed over to The Chill Zone for a cookout.
Located between shops and houses on New Haven’s busy Whalley Avenue is the young adult drop in center, The Chill Zone. People sat on chairs outside socializing with each other and enjoying the sun. Inside music played, people talked and relaxed on the orange lounge chairs, and food began to fill the long counter top than runs across the room.
People come to the Chill Zone for all types of things. Three days a week young adults can come by The Chill Zone for board games, video games, guest speakers, Open Mic (second Wednesday of every month), holiday parties, fun groups and activities, YASBIZ entrepreneurship, recovery-oriented groups and peer -support (parenting, domestic violence, life skills), opportunities for paid internships, and small free meals. They even have a great brochure that explains what they offer and how to get involved.
Things like groups, parties, and activities build a sense of community, belonging, and friendship for the young adults who are part of CMHC and Marrakech. Paid internships and open mic build job skills, confidence, and provide opportunities for other jobs.
Rita, another client of Marrakech said,
“I do an internship at open mic (I get) experience if I want… a job”
when I asked her what her favorite part of open mic is, she told me it’s
“hanging out with my friends (and) being with other people”.
We sat down with three young adults who receive different services from Marrakech and asked them what they thought about Marrakech and the Chill Zone.
This is what Destiny, Rita, and Zhane had to say
“I’ve been in DCF since I was five… I like doing my own thing… (the) best part is I’m independent: a place I’d never thought I’d be… and I’m actually being all that I can be at this moment”
–Destiny, a Marrakech community client
(Speaking about the Chill Zone) “(I love the) social hour, (we) get to be together, do activities, eat food, have fun, meet new people, (and) get out of the house.”
-Rita, a Gilbert resident and Open Mic intern at the Chill Zone
“I’ve come a long way in this program. I’ve been trusting staff more- respecting them. Underneath it all, I’m thankful.”
-Zhane, a resident at the Gilbert Ave transitional living residence run by Marrakech
It was so awesome to get to visit the Chill Zone and speak with the young adults and learn more about the day in the life of a young adult at Marrakech. Thanks so much to everyone at the Chill Zone!
Advocacy Unlimited Summer Fest and 20th Anniversary Celebration and Retreat!
On Friday Advocacy Unlimited hosted their Annual Summer Fest– which also happened to be a celebration for their 20th Anniversary!
Within the deep, warm, and sunny woods of Portland, Connecticut, lays YMCA Camp Ingersoll.
It’s big, fun, and just buggy enough to give you flashbacks of summer camp. And if that’s not enough, the arts &crafts, music, barbecue, giant slide, basketball court, and lake (with swimming, kayaking, and paddle boats) made the whole day feel like camp for grown-ups!
TurningPointCT bloggers Ally and Eliza (me!) traveled there to celebrate Advocacy Unlimited’s twenty years of helping individuals and their families who live with mental illness and addiction, and equipping them with advocacy skills- a necessary tool for everyone- but particularly valuable to people who need to navigate the often confusing and stigmatized world of mental health treatment.
I know that for me, learning to advocate for myself has been one of the most important tools in my recovery. And I just completed Advocacy Unlimited’s Recovery University and am a newly certified Recovery Support Specialist (RSS)! For those who don’t know, an RSS is someone in recovery who is certified to work in the mental health field, as non-clinical peer support and advocate for people receiving treatment.
We spoke with Jess, who is an RSS and asked her why she does what she does.
“I remember being in hospitals and going to treatment and feeling like I couldn’t connect with anybody. I wished somebody could have shown me a glimpse into the future and shown me what my life could have been like.”
After talking to Jess, we hid from the sun under the giant pavilion (it was so HOT!!) and got to hang out with Zhane, who gets services from Marrakech in New Haven. We asked her what brought her to the Summer Fest, and like us, she was there to
“enjoy being together with (her friends), have a good time, and enjoy the weather!”
For Zhane, the most helpful thing for her recovery has been Marrakech, which is an agency that similar to Advocacy Unlimited in that they help people with mental illness and addiction. The road to recovery is long and complicated, but agencies that help with treatment, support, housing, school, work and life skills can be invaluable to many of us.
The camp was open to us all, and as we walked through we saw groups of people playing basketball, running up the steep stairs to go down the giant “slidezilla”, painting under a pavilion, talking to friends, dancing, and sunbathing by the water. It was a great day and full of fun, friends, and food!
Before leaving, we stopped to talk to Jonathan, who is 24, receives services from YAS and lives in Norwich. He came to the Summer Fest to get out of his house and socialize.
His favorite part? The food, especially the fruit salad (I second that!). He shared his dream with us,
“to make my own television show- an anime”.
Before we said goodbye, he told us,
“The most helpful thing I learned was how to turn the other cheek. I used to have a lot of anger issues, but now that I can take a deep breath- stop and keep cool, I’m a lot happier.”
Thank you so much to Advocacy Unlimited for putting together such a fun day, and what a great way to say hello to June and meet other young people in recovery!
may: Fairfield county walks for mental health, norwalk, CT
Fairfield County members, including us here at TurningPointCT, walked together on a beautiful Saturday morning to join together in trying to end the stigma attached to Mental Illness.
Many members of our community spoke about their trials and tribulations with mental illness. Mayor Rilling delivered a proclamation, stating that May is officially Mental Health Awareness Month in the city of Norwalk.
Our very own Eliza from TurningPointCT, spoke about how how her and her daughter’s lives have been affected by mental illness, and why this cause is so important to them.
Just before the walk, all of us were invited to take one step closer to the podium if we, or someone we know, is living with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Eventually, we drew in as close to one another as possible, signifying our effort to stick together to raise awareness about Mental Health.What an incredible sense of community to be able to look around and be surrounded by people who have been affected by mental illness. This exercise truly emphasized our message here at TurningPointCT: You’re Not Alone.
Some of our young adults shared “I walk because….”
Some more of our favorites include:
“I walk…. for my sister.”
“I walk…. to end the stigma.”
“I walk… because my daughter lives with a mental illness.”
“I walk… to change the world.”
The day ended at the Labyrinth & Healing Gardens at St. Pauls of Norwalk. Each of us took a turn walking through the labyrinth, using it as a healing tool. Some of us left objects in the center of the labyrinth, signifying a way to “leave our worries behind”. This experience truly allowed us to strengthen our hope to bring light to mental illness and end the stigma.
January: Work to learn program (w2l), Bridgeport, CT
It’s not very common that young adults get the chance to get hands on job experience, entrepreneurial guidance, assistance with life skills, social support and compensation—but at the Work to Learn (W2L) program at the Boys and Girls Village, this is happening. DCF committed young adults between the ages of 16-21, get the opportunity to learn job skills on site at three different businesses (Meatball Heaven, Do Me a Favor, Design IQ & Print) and have the pleasure of working with their very own job coach to eventually gain the skills necessary to transition into independence. The Work to Learn program is a community based program that provides vocational and educational supports that will ultimately help young adults referred to the program, transition into adulthood seamlessly. Besides the unlimited encouragement and support, the program provides financial asset building trainings, internship connections and placement follow up, opportunities to attend sponsored events, individualized deposit accounts for qualified young adults saving money for specific assets and even offers the chance to participate in leadership experiences as a youth board member that provides a next level voice for DCF involved (or transitioning) youth. The program has been home to more than 80 young adults and has proved it’s significance, as it’s young adults move on to secure part time jobs, go on to vocational school, college, move into their own apartments and overall, achieve their goals. To learn more about the Boys & Girl’s Village Work to Learn program, visit: https://www.bgvillage.org/Content/Work_to_Learn.asp
The youth run businesses have been the strongest component of the program, offering employment training that certainly prepares young adults for their future. Meatball Heaven, a hip, everything meatball restaurant, complete with a chef and their own recipes, has been making some noise downtown. Visitors have the option of dining in or taking out several different menu options, including bread cones, oven toasted grinders, hefty salads, rice or pasta combinations, chili, and the oh-so savory, fluffy sweet balls (fried dough balls with toppings). The restaurant is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11am-4:30pm. (http://www.meatballheaven.net/)
Do Me a Favor brings a twist to the DIY movement, providing custom party favors and event mementos that are sure to make a lasting impression. Young adults craft chic favors made to order and specialize in wedding, graduation, baby shower, and birthday party events. To place an order or to check out some of their work, visit their page at: http://www.domeafavor.net/
Design IQ & Print changes the print game with their precision, creativity, and project turn-around time. This business offers inexpensive printing services to the community, specializing in banners, business signs, stickers, tee shirts and tote bags. Since it’s move to the Arcade mall in downtown Bridgeport, Design IQ & Print has collaborated with several different neighboring businesses and has had the opportunity to work on a project for the Mayor of Bridgeport. Kudos to you all! More info: http://www.designiqandprint.net/
Sending a huge shout out to everyone at the Work to Learn program in Bridgeport and to all the young adults working hard towards independence! Thank you for having us! It was a pleasure to visit and we appreciate your time! If you know anyone looking for favors or a printing project, send them their way! Look out for our podcast with some of the W2L young adults and their amazing insight.
December: Mew Haven Cat Cafe, New Haven, CT
We had the purrrrfect experience at the Mew Haven Cat Cafe in New Haven, CT. They had five furry friends that we were able to spend an hour with; all of which were up for adoption! Basically, a “cat cafe” is a place where you can enjoy your cup of joe with cats that need a good home. Animal therapy has worked for people with a variety of struggles, both mental and physical. There are service animals and therapy animals that range from dogs & cats, to horses and more.
The Mew Haven Cat Café wasn’t serving coffee at the moment, but they are closing for the winter to get their café up and running. They will be opening in Spring ’18 for beverages and more kitties! The five felines had over 250 applications submitted for their adoption! We thought the café was a purrfect way to help them find homes. Many times, animals are kept in cages and don’t have much play time which can decrease their chances of finding a good home. When someone comes into the cat café, they have the opportunity to really bond with the kitty and see if it’s right for them.
Before going the café, we each had a stress level that was pretty high. As we interacted with the cats, our stress levels went down and when leaving, we had a different attitude on those stressors. We recorded
some reactions and we even were able to have an interview with one of the young adult staff members, Justine! Check out our pics and the interview, and join in on the conversation of critter therapy here.
October: New Britain, ct
Although the weather has been warm lately, the vibe inside was spooky and chill in New Britain at the 2ND Annual Join Rise Be Halloween Party, in partnership with Street Smart Ventures.
In addition The Party also served as a debut for the new Emerging Adult Space – A separate wing of the building where the JRB crew have their offices and the warmline.
The Turnout was amazing – the space was packed with young adults in costumes from Robin Hood, Chewbacca, to Disney princesses.
The food spread was packed with goodies from Rice Krispie Treats, Cupcakes, Candy, chips and more. No one left hungry! In the side room, there was pumpkin painting, where a few of us got to sit down and get creative while chatting among friends. Everyone’s pumpkins looked great, and showcased unique styles and creativity.
The Photo booth was a huge hit that night, and Luz was queen of the photo booth that night. She could be seen snapping photos and directing poses like a pro!
Later that evening, music started jamming and everyone got into it. The entire night had a sense of community, as friends got to connect, as well as make new connections.
Here is to the next Halloween Party! Thank you to JRB and SSV!
October: housatonic community college, bridgeport, ct
On October 25, 2017, we were able to attend a Fresh Check Day at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, CT.
Both Ally and Olivia provided resources and support at the Mood Matters booth for the students of HCC! Students stopped to chat and learn about TurningPointCT while they were encouraged to create a mask that reflects their inner thoughts.
The quad at HCC was flooded with students who took the opportunity to get their “Check Up from the Neck Up”! Students were able to participate in activities like yoga, painting, and interacting with the Therapy Dogs!
August: new london connects, new london, ct
CT Strong, Child and Family Agency of Southwestern Connecticut Inc, and High Road School brought the New London community together on August 11, 2017. We were able to attend to provide resources, support, and feature blogger Ally as a guest speaker who shared her lived experience with addiction recovery!
There were a TON of activities for kids of all ages, food, music, special performances and speakers. The event started with children playing on the jungle gym while parents and teens talked with one another. Q105FM was there to encourage people to enter raffles and contests while Ivory Ella gave away 75 backpacks with school supplies included! The Bridge Pizza & Deli were there providing great food while a DJ kept people dancing!
Activities began after everyone had a bite to eat, including a water balloon toss, arts and crafts, a bean bag toss, and races! Performances followed the activities which ranged from speakers, singers, and rappers. One young woman shared her experience of growing up with a father incarcerated. It was extremely brave of her to be as open as she was about her life at home! She credited her mother for being her best support system and her involvement in school sports and activities.
July: YASBIZ Summer workshop, waterford, ct
YASBIZ held their annual summer youth workshop on July 18 at the Baroness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Connecticut. The event took place just beside the beach of the Long Island Sound. Youth in the YASBIZ program from across the state joined together and participated in several workshops that were meant to encourage relaxation: writing, sand castle by the beach, outdoor meditation, exercise and art, and crafts. They also enjoyed making s’mores, indulging in pizza and ice cream and walking by the beach.
We had an opportunity to chat with one of the talented young people, Anthony, who is a part of the Turtle Room. His company is based around the country but here in Connecticut, he works to help with the rescue and protection of turtles and tortoises. He had three turtles on display and one particularly was close to 100 years old and is from Europe. He talked about the mission of his organization and their hope to do more in protecting the turtle population, specifically through research, education, and conservation.
June: 2017 Pride in the park, Norwalk, ct
June 10, 2017 – Pride in the Park Norwalk, CT delivered another fun-filled day of celebrating life, love and happiness. Great food and entertainment.
Here are some takeaways from this year’s celebration on the lawns of Mathew’s Mansion in Norwalk:
APRIL: 30th Annual Research & Policy Conference in Tampa, FL
TurningPointCT.org, CT STRONG, NAMI, and Street Smart Ventures collaborated to present at a Poster Session at the 30th Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health! We were honored to be a part of this and we had a large crowd surrounding our poster asking us several questions and getting ideas to start their own young adult services in their state (or country!).
A common question that people asked us was, “how do you monitor the website?” The answer to that question, being that we have 3 staff members monitor it with the help of our mobile devices, seemed to shock people. A lot them were surprised to hear that it so simple! We also received compliments of how young adults created the site. One young man was from Massachusetts and explained how he knew all about TurningPointCT.org! He even started to engage with the crowd, telling them how our website was “awesome” and “perfect for young adults”! It was great to see that we were reaching people outside of CT!
Aside from the presentation, the breakout sessions were very informative! It was exciting to see presenters talk about programs that they have in their state. However, it was even better seeing that Connecticut have already been practicing the same type of programs for years! Connecticut still has a lot more to bring into existence, but we were very grateful to be reminded of our progress!
One breakout session that we attended discussed the importance of involving young people in change. So many people go to their Legislative Office Building and advocate for change in many different topics. Often times, young people may feel as if their voice isn’t important and will not be heard. Well, clearly on TurningPointCT.org, we value your voice and we want others to hear it as well! So, it was refreshing to see others’ believe in the power of a young adult’s voice! They provided a ton of information on why it is so important to hear your voice! One reason was because YOU ARE THE FUTURE! That statement was great to be reminded of because it gives us confidence when we want to impact change!
Overall, the conference and presentation was a wonderful experience and we hope to be working together again with the other organizations in the future!
MARCH: Hangtime in Bridgeport
Since coming together 2 1/2 years ago, Hangtime has grown to be something the community needs. The program bridges a much needed gap between people from all walks of life, irregardless of age, gender, ethnicity, and background. It serves as an open forum for community members, initiatives and young adults but most importantly, is a safe space for everyone. Hangtime, led and facilitated by the explosive Charles Grady, cultivates social inclusion, solidarity and adds a spice to the neighborhood’s culture, bringing back the importance of “family style” discussions. TurningPointCT.org had the pleasure of attending a meeting on Tuesday night and as expected, it was nothing short of fulfilling. Grady, a long with a room filled of community residents, agency workers, and project staff, welcome us with open arms, directing us to the spread of pizza and drinks as soon as we entered. The feeling of comfort and warmth suffocated the room and to my surprise, we most certainly felt at home.
Just before getting started into the typical rundown, everyone laughed, chuckled and giggled as Hangtime regulars spurt out funny jokes and cracks at one another. As we chowed down on our pizza slices, we went around the room and introduced ourselves and shared we were from. Although most people were Bridgeport natives, there were a few individuals from neighboring cities. Each person, proud and confident, shared what side of town or neighborhood of Bridgeport they were from. Now if you are not familiar with Bridgeport, there are primarily 4 sides of town (North, East, South, and West) and there are tons of neighborhoods, whom unfortunately, do not always get along with one another. To witness groups of people from fighting parts of town come together, laugh and share perspectives, is unprecedented so before getting into the meat and bone of the meeting, we were already impressed!
We also went around the room and shared what we were upset and happy about. It was amazing to hear everyone highlight their ups and downs and to witness the amount of support/advice from the others in the room. Our discussion started with a question, “Who was the first female athlete to play professional basketball?” Of course everyone spat out names and laughed at some of each other’s answers but to most of our surprise, no one truly knew. It was not until Grady gave us a hint, did someone guess correctly– Sheryl Swoopes, that’s who. After watching an amazing clip of her accomplishments, the room got into a major discussion about male and female athletes. We dissected the sexism that thrives in athletics and in the professional realm and took a look at the gender flaws in marketing and campaigning in pro sports. This discussion segwayed into representations of women in power and what those in power do for others. As everyone shared their thoughts, perspectives and ideas, magic happened. We saw a group of people, all so different, (some of which probably would not get along with one another on the streets) respectfully share their opinions and rightfully express themselves, filter free. TurningPointCT witnessed how special and neccessary Hangtime is!
The exercises and model that Hangtime follows, unlike the mandated programs that people are forced to go to, teach a real life skill– how to effectively deal with things you may not want to hear in life and how to face adversity. It teaches growth and is a place for healthy discussion that encourages those who may not use their voice so often, to in fact speak up and speak out.
Hangtime also accepts clothing donations at the start of the meeting, provides job listings/postings as well as community resources. Although people come and go, the program has become a staple in the community and does a special sort of advocacy that the city has not seen in some time. All people are welcome and all organizations are invited to collaborate.
Hangtime takes places every Tuesday night from 6-8pm in Bridgeport CT at 570 State Street. Since the success of the program, “Her Time” has been created to bring together the women of the community who have been forced to “make ends meet” and “hold it down” as victims of incarceration or other struggles. The next meeting is set for April 12! Look out for more information on the forum and on our social media.
To keep up with everything Hangtime, follow them on Facebook: HangTime on Facebook
MARCH: Chris Herren @ Wolcott high school
Over 500 people attended the “REBOUND, The Chris Herren Story” in Wolcott hosted at Wolcott High School! We got to be part of that crowd that heard his inspiring story! To give you a little background, Chris Herren is a basketball legend who played for his hometown team, the Boston Celtics! He broke scoring records and he was featured in Sports Illustrated! Unfortunately, he lost it all due to substance abuse and now travels to tell his story of his fall into addiction and his life now in recovery!
The audience was captivated by his story. The auditorium was completely silent as Chris opened up about his story of active addiction. The crowd was full of students, parents, community members, and TONS of people in recovery! Chris’s story was very inspiring and he kept stressing that all it took was “a 20 dollar bill that bought a 20 dollar pill” to start a path of destruction which destroyed his career and devastated his family.
At the end of his story, he talked about how life is in recovery. Chris has been in recovery since August 1, 2008! He stayed in the auditorium after the event to take pictures, greet everyone with a hug, and speak with some people privately. He said that his mission for each speech is to impact at least one person in the crowd, but we witnessed HUNDREDS of people impacted!
Check out our section of young adults share their own story and stories of recovery! If you want to tell your story, we would love to share it! Click here to read and submit stories!
FEBRUARY: Bridging the Divide event @ Norwalk Community College – Ethnic Equality and Social Inclusion
Year after year we exchange gifts, cards, flowers, candies and most importantly, LOVE during Valentines Day, but this is not only a time for those who are able to love, it is also a time for those who have struggled to find peace in loving. Whether on a intercultural, interracial, or interdenominational level we all deserve love and we all deserve the right to chose who we want to love. Norwalk Community College hosted a relationship focused, diversity discussion on a number of issues that were and are still prevalent in modern American, Afro Caribbean, and immigrant societies. Not only was it important to be a part of such a wonderful event merely off of the strength that it was so relevant to what we are currently struggling with, it was the perfect opportunity to spread awareness about Ethnic Equality (this month is Ethnic Equality Awareness Month). The topics discussed goes back as far as the ban on interracial marriage in the 1691 Commonwealth of Virginia, where whites were threatened to exile had they marry people of color to the 2015 ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling in favor of Marriage Equality. There were a number of questions thrown at the audience by the moderator but random participants at the event also put forward very crucial questions.Some key pointers from the discussions, including questions and opinions, are included below:
Loving vs Virginia
“The couple was referred to the ACLU, which represented them in the landmark Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia (1967). The Court ruled that state bans on interracial marriage were unconstitutional.” ACLU.org
1st Participant’s Question: If this is not happening today why are we still talking about it?
Guest Response: To remind us why history must not repeat itself.
Moderator’s question: How are social factors are affecting who we interact with?
Guest Response: The media has defined beauty and has caused us to be attracted to a certain type of girl.
One guest at the event also shared a very touching story, “My husband’s parents would not accept me because of my Jewish heritage. It was not until I changed my name that they began to recognize me and it took many more years before they finally accepted me for who I am.”
One genuine and kind-hearted guest at the discussion begged to console her: “Everyone has a different religion, romance should surpass religious boundaries.”
Towards the end of the event we explored some of the benefits of interracial, intercultural and interdenominational marriages to both society and individuals, some of which included:
- The elimination of social bias
- Learning opprtunies
- And a more communal society
Some topics we were asked to keep on our minds as we consider how society is changing, included adoption and business relationships. This event brought a wonderful group of people together and got the conversation going about one of the most controversial issues, especially in these past few months with all of the changes. As satisfying as it was to be surrounded by so many open minds, it reminded us of how important it is to speak up and speak out. Come together and support one another. For more information about upcoming events, check out are Announcements in the discussion forum: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/forum/announcements-events/
JANUARY: New London AXS Center!
Young adults who might otherwise have slipped through the cracks are getting the help they need, thanks to the AXS Center! We got the chance to check out the center and see what the whole building had to offer. When we first walked in, we immediately felt the relaxed, chill vibe. The walls were covered in young adult artwork, adding their own flare and personal touch to the place and the layout was real modern. We definitely felt at home, especially after Orlando welcomed us with open arms. After a tour and meeting of the staff, we engaged with a few young adults and had the opportunity to pick their brains. We caught up on politics, celebrity issues and even shared some of our personal experiences.
The AXS is a hang out place for young adults mainly ages 18-25. However, ANYONE IS WELCOME AND ALL SERVICES ARE FREE! The community access center is a chill spot with couches, TVs, an Xbox, computers, a game room, a kitchen, and most importantly, a network of support. The center provides Adult education programs, transportation to/from appointments with enough notice and offers job support. They also accept and provide lightly worn clothing donations, access to shower and laundry services, meals and are known in the community for putting on some of the most well attended community events (basketball tournaments, holiday events, etc.) To further their initiative of providing resources and positive outlooks on life, the AXS team takes small recreational group trips– so far, they’ve been able to attend professional basketball games, visit the Rockefeller Center and Statue of Liberty, and enjoy themselves at amusement parks.
The AXS staff members are all New London natives who know the ins and outs of the city and take the time to get to know each and every young adult that walks in the center. It was refreshing to see people who have grown up under the same circumstances provide hope and use their own experiences to help young adults. They advocate for them when they are facing difficulties, provide peer to peer support, and essentially have a family dynamic. The AXS Center felt like a safe space…it was special. With hard work and dedication, the AXS Center proves that success is most certainly possible. This center is an asset to the New London community, a great model for future centers and we can not wait to return for another visit!
The AXS Center is open Monday-Friday 9am-6pm / Saturday 11am-4pm. For more specific information about the center and about the amazing staff, visit their website:
Tell them that we sent you 🙂
December: Gay Santa and Young Adult Services (YAS) Holiday Meetups!
Shout out to all of our pals and gay friendly supporters at Gay Santa and YAS. We had a great time at both events!
Gay Santa (Norwalk, CT) was successful for another year. We were happy to see all of our old friends and the many new faces. There was good food, a lot of laughter, and a lot of cheers. We all came together for another night before Christmas at the Triangle Community Center to open our presents. Kevin, TurningPointCT staff and blogger, got a voucher for his text books for next semester from his secret gay Santa – exactly what he needed! It was all smiles, everyone got exactly what they wanted for Christmas and more!
Fun fact: Gay Santa was an idea that was introduced by a case manager at Triangle, who wanted to help renew faith in Christmas and in love for giving as well as in the enjoyment of life. It is dedicated to all LGBT youth throughout Fairfield County and surrounding communities, especially those who have experienced homelessness or may be away from their families. It gives these vulnerable youth an opportunity to celebrate Christmas with people who love and support them.
YAS (Bridgeport, CT) Christmas Youth Meetup was another success as well! The young adults who came out were some of the most grateful, most appreciative young people you will ever come across. A lot of us showed up and had no idea what to expect but all came home with a gift and good memories. The event included a three course meal, an open dance floor and a raffle. It was well planned and well executed. We are even happier that so many people are dedicated to making sure that all young adults, gay or straight had a moment to celebrate the holidays.
DECEMBER: Open House Ugly Sweater Party at The Family Wellness Center
Linking up with our CTSTRONG family is always a great time but this visit, was certainly one for the books. TurningPointCT visited and partied with families and friends at the CTSTRONG sponsored event at the Family Wellness Center in Middletown for their Open House Ugly Sweater Party.
In our Christmas attire, families and friends joined in on a night of karaoke, dancing, catered food, and socializing. People from the community wore their ugliest sweaters and funky socks, and shared in conversation surrounded by festive decorations and lights. Kids and young adults rocked the mic and showed off their dance moves for additional raffle tickets and to take home some free swag. CTSTRONG’s Michael Scanlon stole the show with his standout dancing and young adults turned up with him as the speakers blasted out the hit single, “Juju on Dat beat” – check out the song here .
Everyone in the center filled the room with laughter and cheered each other on, pulling out their phones to catch the moment. As the raffle went on through the night, desserts were served and the entire center engaged in a full blown cover of the Frozen theme song, “Let it Go”. From USB drives to gift cards, cups, and key chains, almost everyone left with something in hand and most importantly, with a smile on their face. It was a time of celebration and we certainly brought in the holiday with the right spirit.
The Family wellness center provides educational resources for parents and provides activity groups for children as well as story times, playgroups for all ages, youth development programs and movement programs. The center also hosts special programs for parents and their children, including infant massages and special afternoon groups. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 3-8pm, The Family Wellness Center is also a young adult drop in center and is home to Young Adult Nights and workshops for Middletown residents between the ages of 16-25. Young adults are invited to join in on songwriting and creative community movement workshops and are offered free tutoring.
The Family Wellness Center is open M-F from 8:30 am- 5pm and is located at 635 Main Street Middletown, CT, 06457
For more information about CTSTRONG, please visit their page and check out our social media and media room for updates: CTSTRONG
NOVEMBER: Rm. 4 Access Center in Milford
Finding a place to relax, chill and vibe with other young adults in Connecticut can sometime be a difficult task, but since the development of access centers, things have become a bit easier. Access centers were created to provide a safe space for young adults to receive resources, relax with recreation, hang out with one another, access employment resources and opportunities, to find comfort in their transition and challenges of becoming an adult, but most importantly, to be a place where someone is there to listen. They have been a place of peer support, empowerment and opportunity.
Just recently, Rm.4 has opened its doors in Milford, CT and has been a huge help to the community. In adapting some of the same programs and styles of other access centers throughout CT with their own special team, they have evolved and have become an integral part of the community.
Rm.4 is home to many programs, resources and 2 part time staff members who are there for assistance. Although in Milford, the center is not restricted to Milford residents and encourages young adults 18-25 as well their friends and family to visit! (Anyone is welcome to join but specific services are limited to young adults 18-25)
The center is open Tuesday-Saturday 12-5pm, has free WIFI and offers plenty of recreational activities. There is def something for everyone, from martial arts to yoga and even positivity workshops!
For upcoming events, visit http://rm4.org/events/
The center has a lounge feel with an open space and room to do as you please. The center has a tv and game system, pool table, art and game supplies section, exercise equipment, computer room, fooze ball table and even has laundry facilities. The center is a community resource area, surrounded by boards with employment opportunities, safe sex tips, information about mental health and of course access to young adult resources all over the state. Rm.4 staff and volunteers assist with FAFSA applications for college, helps with homework, and even accepts minimal clothing donations. The center also provides toiletries for young adults in need. As a community based center, Rm.4 works very closely with local schools to provide a safe space and assistance.
This past week, Rm.4 hosted yet another awesome event which bought about 25 young adults to the center. Geordann , a young adult musician from UNH, hung out and played his guitar while singing as everyone else conversed, danced, dug into the delicious spread of sandwiches, chips, dip and treats, and played pool. Geordann is a West Haven native and loves performing. He heard about the access center from a friend. Check him out here: https://youtu.be/CN4ntbkfvMQ
TPCT was able to catch up with some young adults at the center. Both Matt & Kristen came to the center for the live music and really enjoy their time there. Since visiting the spot with a group from their academy, they decided to come again. When I asked what made them come back, they both agreed that, “it was a fun place to be and that they love to play pool.” Both Matt & Kristen live in the area and plan to spend a lot of time at the center. Jack, a friend of Matt and Kristen, loves the video games and the fact that he gets to meet new people.
Tonya Steskla’s, manager at RM.4, goal of the center is to connect more young adults and to get those who otherwise find themselves hiding in their shells, to get out and get connected.
Look out for more information and events at http://rm4.org/ . Their upcoming luncheon for the holidays will be another hit, make sure to visit.
SEPTEMBER: COMEDIAN Kevin Breel @ Yale University
On September 19, TurningPointCT.org & Mind Matters sponsored an evening with comedian, writer and mental health activist Kevin Breel at Yale University! Kevin Breel, a 22 year old social activist who has had his own battle with depression, began touring as a teenager and has since created a name for himself in the world,as one of the most influential millennials in the world. Not only does he have one of the most viewed TED Talk’s in history, he has been featured in plenty of news outlets and has headlined tons of shows at historic venues, including the House of Blues and the Coliseum in Vegas. He has been featured on MTV, CNN, The Washington Journal as well as Huffington Post. His work speaks volumes and his advocacy is bringing the world together. Although this was not his first time in Connecticut, it was his first time at Yale and we were honored to have been able to bring him out.
In a room of about 60 students, professors, and families, Breel shared his personal story of struggle and triumph through humor, honesty and most importantly, empathy. Kevin was a realistic view of inspiration and his experiences with his mental health struggles certainly helped all of us to accept and understand our own circumstance. His delivery captured the audience and touched each and everyone in the room. Kevin also participated in a Q&A session, answering a few questions and giving feedback based on his own experiences and expertise.
For more information about Kevin Breel and how you can get him at your next event, visit his website: http://kevinbreel.com/ .. Tell him that we sent you 🙂
Check out some of our videos and pictures from the event
“It was def a great night. Great sense of humor… Huge shoutout to Mind Matters too, they are doing such great work on campus.” -Rai
During the question and answer segment of the event, Kevin responded to questions and shared some great advice on dealing with with mental illness, in society and among family members and peers. Check out the video and questions here.
Kevin Breel q&a 1:
What are some of the things you rely on now to keep you balanced? Breel’s Answer to Question 1
“…I think for myself it’s super individual. Whatever works for you. The only thing that I can really suggest is having a routine, and for me there are things such as waking up early, exercising… but for you it might be something different.”
Kevin Breel q&a 2: Breel’s Answer to Question 2
“What tips do you have for reaching out to friends who you are worried for?”
“…Just be there for that person, don’t try to push too hard, if its not authentic.”
Kevin Breel q&a 3: Breel’s Answer to Question 3
“Do you think we are making strides in society to help people with mental illness?’
“Yeah I do, but I also think there’s a lot of work to do… there’s so much potential and there is a lot of good stuff… and if we weren’t making strides we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Kevin Breel q&a 4: Breel’s Answer to Question 4
“What would you say to your friends or family who is suffering from severe?”
“For me, I can just relate this to what I would want to hear if I am struggling. For me, its just that you are enough as you are and this is normal.”
September: Young Adult Conference – Constance Lane Arnold
Brian talks about his experience at the recent Speaker Series, by CTSTRONG, which featured motivational speaker and talk show host, Constance Lane Arnold. The event was held on Friday, September 9th, in Cromwell, Connecticut. This was a special young adult conference aimed at helping to transform young adult leaders through self-care, relationship maintenance, setting professional boundaries, and more!
“As I take my seat at one of the banquet tables in the Crown Room of the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, I’m not sure what to expect from the day’s events. I’ve heard the speaker – Constance Lane Arnold – more than once before, on her Think, Believe and Manifest! radio program, always enjoying her show and finding myself a little more inspired after listening than before.
Understanding the Power of Caring for Self. Focusing and Getting Clear About What You Desire. Identifying Action Steps and Setting Intentions. These are just a few of the topics that comprised the day’s agenda.
She stressed the importance of boundaries, and about who we choose to spend our time with and how we engage with them.
Those in attendance at the event expressed their struggle coping with trials and tribulations in their personal lives. Constance discussed how the key is to not rely on external sources for your happiness, energy, fulfillment, etc. She described certain unhealthy coping strategies as self-medication. “Medication is anything external that is used to help ease problems”. Constance also discussed how the key is to not rely on external sources for your hapiness, energy, fulfillment, etc.
In addition to discussing the importance of mindfulness and changing your your paradigm, Constance also spoked about other practical ways to practice self care to improve life satisfaction. “Be open to connections” she said, meaning develop healthy and enriching relationships with others, because that’s how we grow and develop.” — Brian
August: CT Young Adult Warmline
In August, we had the pleasure of going to The Spot in Hartford to talk to the operators for the awesome new CT Young Adult Warmline. Ran by young adults, the warmline is a a number you can call to help you connect to community resources, find motivation to move forward in life and gain inspiration through the hope offered by these young people who are living in recovery! It was really cool getting to know the young adults involved with the warmline and we are excited to hear it’s growing success.
Not only is the warmline helping young people across CT, it has been a huge help in many of the operators recovery. It is an amazing example of the many ways peer support can have an impact. Being able to help others who are going through some of the same things they had gone through creates a special connection between the caller and operator.
If you need someone to talk to call 1-855-6HOPENOW
July: Super Advocacy Open Mic Night @ TOIVO
It’s not every day that we get to witness raw talent in our backyard so this month’s event was definitely special. The power of spoken word, music, poetry in many forms, and script reading was heavily felt and the crowd was most certainly into it.
Just before the weekend, TurningPointCT.org had the pleasure of attending the second Super Advocacy Open Mic at TOIVO in Hartford. TOIVO by Advocacy Unlimited, is a wellness center that includes statewide classes, programs and workshops that allows people to experience a sense of empowerment, strength and ownership. The center is home to many and has become a very special place, especially for young adults. The warm smiles, peer support and experienced professional certainly make it one of a kind. To get involved, visit http://toivocenter.org/ for more info!
Like many of the events hosted at TOIVO, the Open Mic was nothing short of interesting, successful, & to say the least, entertaining. Young adults, peers, staff and friends from different organizations, including CHR, YASBIZ, & YAS groups, gathered to celebrate talent. After socializing for about an hour and enjoying tons of deep dish pizza, Jay I from Manchester set off the show. He freestyled over a beat & engaged the crowd right before Luz and a few others blessed the space with incredible, heartfelt poetry. Following up their acts, a young adult from Waterbury brought the laughter as he told jokes, admitting that being a comedian was always something that he wanted to be. After two exciting script reads and role plays, another young adult showed off his musical ability…this time singing while playing the guitar. The last performance was that of a young woman who too would impress us all with her sound. Maribel, of East Windsor, performed a personal song that she wrote about her relationship with her father. Dressed in a black blazer, biker glove and felt top hat, she sang her lyrics over a beat that she discovered on YouTube. As she performed, her friend sang along and clapped to the beat as the crowd joined in unison. Check out a clip of her performance:
June: Pride in The Park- Norwalk, CT
Yesterday (Sunday, June 5th) Triangle Community Center hosted a fun-filled day of Pride in the Park in Norwalk, CT. Never mind the rain, it signaled a beautiful rainbow in the afternoon sky and everyone partied to the very end.
It was TCC’s second annual Pride festival, the largest in the state of Connecticut. Among the main performers at the event were drag queens, Raven and Jujubee (finalist from Rupaul’s drag race) and singer, Tiffany.
Featured as a family friendly event, Pride in the Park attracts thousands of people from diverse backgrounds of all race, religion, gender and sexuality.
But what is LGBT Pride?
Gay pride or LGBT pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.
Some brave young-adults also shared their perspectives:
Shelby: “Pride means community!”
Charneil: “Our cries exist!”
May: Laughter Yoga
“Laughter – the most civilized music in the world” Peter Ustinov
CCAR Young Adult & Family Program and TurningPointCT collaborated on a Laughter Yoga event in Bridgeport, CT on May 13th. Several young adults got together with laughter yoga instructor, Laura Le for a therapeutic and enlightening event of laughter! Laughter Yoga is used as a powerful stress management tool. For more information visit www.LaughterYoga.org: Official website of Dr. Madan Kataria, “laughter guru” & founder of Laughter Yoga in 1995. Info, videos, trainings, and more.
Here is a quick introduction to the art of Yoga: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGNOF8DVIPQ
Benefits of Laughter: Lower stress, lower blood pressure and release endorphins, Reduce dosage of anti-depressants and pain medication, Burn calories and Boost immune system and spirits
Check out this KOOL resource and Join the Laughter where you can call in a specific times during the day to engage with others in laughter yoga @ (For the Free Hotline schedules)
More about laughter yoga instructor, laura le:
Laura Le a is Wellness facilitator with TOIVO which is an initiative that includes statewide classes, workshops and a mind/body focused wellness center where people can engage in expert facilitated yoga, meditation, fitness and strength training, creative writing, expressive art, walk/run groups, nutrition workshops, drum circles and much more! for more information visit: http://toivocenter.org/.
May: NAMI Connecticut Walk
On Saturday, May 21, hundreds of individuals and their pets, joined in unison to stomp out the stigma around mental health and to advocate on its behalf. Bushnell Park in Hartford, CT was filled with joy, laughter and support as everyone shared their stories of challenge, triumph and everything in between. Several different organizations, including a combination of young adult groups, raised awareness through donations, sponsorships, volunteering, and good ol fashioned walking.
NAMI Connecticut , an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all those affected by mental health conditions by engaging in support, education and advocacy, marked it’s 13th anniversary of NAMI walks and looks forward to many more! What began as a small imitative to spread awareness, has grown into a statewide event to celebrate mental health. “Walk Day is an opportunity to team up with friends, loved ones, co-workers, neighbors and others touched by mental illness to come together to raise awareness and combat stigma.”
If you missed this one, make sure to walk it out in 2017! While Walk day may be over with, NAMI CT is still pushing forward and continuing it’s amazing work.
To be a part of the organization or to renew your membership, Join or Renew Today.
If you would like to make a donation, Click Here.
April: Fresh Check Day
Fresh Check Day @ NCC – On Wednesday, April 22, 2016 we celebrated #FreshCheckDay at Norwalk Community College in Norwalk, Connecticut. The West Campus cafeteria was filled with students, parents and campus/community organizations as everyone cheerfully engaged in conversation and participated in more than 12 different booth activities that in one way or another, captured an aspect of mental wellness. Each booth provided an activity that engaged students and visitors and helped to facilitate the dialogue on mental health, opening the door for the first for many who, and I quote, “have never really thought about it”. From yoga to painting to even designing t shirts, NCC Fresh Check Day had it all and everyone that contributed surely made the event worthwhile but even more importantly, educational and comforting. The event saw over 150 students and as tradition goes, one student walked off with an awesome flat screen TV after winning the raffle. Huge shoutout to the one and only Miss. Lisa Slade (NCC Mental Health Counselor) for once again pulling it all together, NCC is on a roll!
Fresh Check Day is the signature program of The Jordan Porco Foundation (JPF). JPF works closely with colleges to plan Fresh Check Day in an effort to bring awareness of mental health resources and coping strategies to college campuses.
TurningPointCT was the host of the #UpliftBooth, which focuses on practicing self-care and wellness that helps to reduce stress and improve physical health, both of which can improve your mental health as well. Students and visitors to the #UpliftBooth engaged in stress-relief activities such as making stress balls, engaging in sensory and mindfulness activities with kinetic sand, using de-stress massage oil for relaxation and peer-to-peer discussions on wellness (included in our video).
Students talked about how they maintain healthy lifestyles through physical fitness and time management etc. and we provided additional feedback and information on how they can improve their everyday habits.
Some of the main goals of the Fresh Check Day are to:
- Increase awareness of mental health resources and services available to students
- Reduce stigma and misconceptions around mental health and suicide that often deter individuals from seeking help
- Empower peers to be gatekeepers by understanding warning signs and knowi
ng what to do if a friend is exhibiting signs of suicide or a mental health concern
- Increase willingness to ask for help if experiencing emotional distress
For additional information you can visit their website @ http://freshcheckday.com/
Keep posted for the next Fresh Check day, where we will be co-hosting with the UConn Honor’s program @ University of Connecticut on April 23 2016!
March: CCAR Young Adult and Family Program Open House
CCAR (Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery) welcomed dozens as they celebrated the opening of their new location in Bridgeport for their Young Adult and Family Program. TurningPointCT.org, along with several other young adults, mental health organizations (DMHAS, Facing Addiction, etc) and outreach programs, shared in conversation as project manager, Carol Cruz, excitedly toured us around the space. This center is dedicated to providing recovery support services and resources to young adults & families utilizing Telephone Recovery Support and Recovery Coach Training. Parent and family support is provided through education and peer support networks that also emphasize empowerment and advocacy skills training.
The program is located in the middle of Bridgeport, a few blocks from the Downtown area, high schools and transportation center. There will be plenty to do, so if you’re in the area, please visit. Also, if you are a young adult in recovery and would like a weekly telephone call “check in” to see how you’re doing, get more info hCCAR Young Adult and Family Program
853 Fairfield Ave., Suite 2A Bridgeport, CT
For more info, please contact Carol @ Carol@ccar.us and look for more updates on the forum –> ANNOUNCEMENTS
Young Adults (16-25) who reside in New London, Milford or Middletown can take advantage of a new program which tailors a unique plan to your specific challenges! The CT STRONG (Seam
less Transition and Recovery Opportunities through Network Growth) will help you establish your goals and work with you to discover how to accomplish them. Life can be hard sometimes. We can struggle with issues at home, school, in our community. Our challenges can be related to social, emotional, spiritual or cultural issues.
Our Wraparound team includes Peer Specialists who understand what you may be going through, as they have conquered similar challenges and are in recovery from their own difficulties. They know that mental illness is never a choice, but recovery is. They are willing to share what they have learned on their journey of recovery. Let us help you change your life!
Please contact at:
Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT
7 Vauxhall St., New London, CT, 06320
Marissa Valdiserra (860) 442-2797 X 1236
Community Health Center (CHC)
675 Main St., Middletown, CT
Kai Belton (860) 347-6971 x3920
A Community Support System
949 Bridgeport Ave., Milford, CT 06460
Debra Gannon (203) 878-6365 X 318