Research shows it is important to introduce basic concepts of violence prevention as early as possible. To this end The Network Against Domestic Abuse, Inc. (The Network) has created a Community Youth Education Program for area public school students beginning in the third grade and continuing through high school. The Network provides younger students with programs focusing on emotions, self-esteem and healthy friendships.
Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Amiel P. Zak Public Service Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Network’s Community Youth Education Program will reach 155 Suffield school students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades during 2017. These programs help to teach students the importance of making smart, informed choices in their relationships with their families, teachers, friends or in dating relationships. Students will learn tools to help them recognize subtle forms of relationship abuse and how to address these issues. These lessons (conversations) provide the base for future topics around teen dating violence and college campus sexual assault issues.
Program evaluations by elementary school teachers have revealed that the curriculum offered by the Network has had a positive impact on their students. Recent teacher evaluation responses included:
“Students need time to reflect on how to be a good friend and the (Network’s) presentations help them with that.”
“Students need time to develop social skills. Many students lack empathy. They very rarely solve peer problems. Curriculum does not include every day problem solving. When you (the Network) come, students receive an incredibly needed lesson.”
The Amiel P. Zak Public Service Fund has a long history of supporting programs like this that benefit the community of Suffield. Established in 2002 by Michael Zak to honor the service of his late father, a teacher at Suffield High School for 35 years and who also served on numerous town boards as well as many civic and public associations. According to Michael, his father often expressed frustration when the town did not have the budget to meet what he considered important community needs.
2017 other Public Service Fund grant recipients include:
Since 2002, the Amiel P. Zak Scholarship Fund at the Hartford Foundation has awarded college scholarships totaling more than $187,000 to 16 students from Suffield High School. This year’s recipient is Caelie Flanagan, who will be attending the University of Hartford in the fall.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of $687 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.