Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Celebration of Youth.

It is interesting to see how a blog post can develop.  Initially, the article was to highlight the November neighborhood cleanup for our blog readers.  After the recent events in Newtown, it seemed more appropriate to celebrate our youth and let them know how extraordinary they are.

We have amazing young people in our community.  Three months ago, we organized our third street cleanup.  We were joined by Solar Youth and LaToya Agnews' Youth Group.  The atmosphere on this day was electric.  There was chatter, laughter, excitement and energy.  One of the main reasons for this was because of our youth.  From the smallest to the oldest, the kids worked tirelessly; never complaining.  Their boundless eagerness kept the adults moving!

Solar Youth was established in 2000 by Joanne Sciulli.  She recognized the need for youth development programs in working class neighborhoods.  After establishing two successful programs sites in New Haven, Solar Youth has recently found a site in Newhallville! 

They provide programs that meet the needs of children as young as four years old.  Children are encouraged to advance through the many stages called the "Cycle of Stewardship."  The aim is to create an environment the children can grow with until early adulthood.  You can read more about the positive impact here.

The Solar Youth staff love what they do; and the children respond positively.  If you would like to know more or get involved, please visit them at


Our next featured youth program is led by LaToya Agnew.  She has lived most of her life in Newhallville with her grandmother and extended family.  This is a young woman that does not let spare time go to waste.  Currently, she is enrolled as a full time college student majoring in Sociology.

LaToya considers herself a "community person".  In recent years, she has pursued opportunities to help out her neighborhood.  Last summer, she started a beautification project on Lilac Street; planting much needed trees and shrubs. 

In early spring 2013, she will be starting a larger project; the new Lilac/Newhall Community Garden.  (The official name is to be decided by the neighborhood kids).  LaToya sees this project as a way to get the community together; especially our children.  In turn, the children will have a chance to experience growing healthy food firsthand.

This community garden project is no small task.  The large, U-shaped lot is currently vacant and in disrepair.  But, LaToya is determined.  Her vision for the space includes an area for quiet reflection and garden beds. 

Our neighborhood is anticipating the groundbreaking of this community garden.  If you would like to volunteer your time or resources to this project, please email LaToya Agnew directly at

Be well, and thank you for visiting.

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