‘A Place of Its Own’: Wesleyan Youth Program Engages Children in Middletown Housing Complex – Middletown Press | Candle Made Easy

MIDDLETOWN – For the second year, children living in the Traverse Square condominium have been engaged in an initiative designed to promote their physical and mental well-being over the summer.

“I adore the babies at T-Square because I really love them all,” Diana Martinez, associate director of the Jewett Center, posted on Facebook this month.

Financial support, led by Sen. Matt Lesser, Rep. Quentin Williams and Wesleyan, paid for a yoga instructor, mats for the kids, “and more importantly — a few minutes to think, move and breathe deeply,” Martinez said, somewhat Otherwise they might not have been exposed.

The program runs from Monday to Thursday at 3:00 p.m. Hours are designed to allow children to attend other summer programs in town earlier in the day.

According to Martinez, the program is student-led and operated in the neighborhood and provides children with a community environment where they receive academic and social support. Also known as “The Center,” it is dedicated to providing children with resources to thrive in all “aspects of life,” she added.

The main effort is focused on helping the children with their homework. They also enjoy academic enrichment, recreational activities, and Friday outings.

“The center exists as a community space where the children have created a place of their own through their enduring relationships and friendships with each other and with the Wesleyan student staff and their commitment to the center and the values ​​it represents,” Martinez said.

Youth workforce was provided through a partnership with the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Paid Summer Youth Employment Program led by Workforce Program Manager Lorenzo Marshall. Funding comes from the Workforce Alliance, he said.

This year, more than 40 construction sites, including the Greater Middletown Military Museum, Middletown Recreation Services Division and others, have created jobs for young people. This year, 150 youth applied for 90 spots, Marshall said.

The jobs program helps teens develop advanced interpersonal skills, Marshall explained. “Maybe someone will come in who is more reserved, shy and not open to commitment. At the end of the program they develop and feel a little more comfortable and share their knowledge and experience with some of the younger kids.”

“If you are a role model there as an ’employee’, even though you are a young person who has to deal with an adult looking after you, then you pull that out of your snail shell and give you courage [mentees] to be a lot more open sooner than later,” Marshall said.

The kids will also receive a $5 fruit and veg coupon when they visit the Middletown Farmers Market on the South Green on Fridays.

“Today a small crew of ours came over and took away corn, nectarines and lots of plums,” Martinez wrote on social media. “We sat on a blanket and listened to live music, grabbed some books from the bookmobile and painted seashells. … It was a good day.”

Kids can enjoy a packed lunch from Middletown Public Schools Summer Lunch.

The enrichment program began last summer in response to the pandemic, MRJC executive director Precious Price said. Wesleyan has offered summer classes and mentoring at Traverse Square for years, she added.

“Promoting physical and mental well-being for youth of color is a critical part of the job,” she said in a joint statement with Martinez and Traverse Square program coordinator Keith Davis.

“In response to the closure of schools, camps and other summer programs, we knew community organizations needed to step in to provide the learning, structure and peer interaction that children need to be healthy and healthy,” Price explained.

One goal is to provide resources and opportunities for the youth living in Traverse Square to “enjoy their community, hang out with their peers, learn something new, and have a healthy summer,” she said.

The hope is to eventually expand it to other communities of color in Middletown, Price noted.

Also, as part of the program, wellness backpacks were offered to 100 youth in Traverse Square and elsewhere in the city. They contain yoga mats, art supplies, games, snacks and more.

Other planned activities include a visit to a horse farm and trips to the cinema and trampoline park.

Children are also encouraged to discuss general issues that are likely to affect their whole lives, e.g. B. what freedom means to them.

“We’ve talked about how building new skills brings us closer to freedom because it opens up the possibilities of where we can go; and things we can do, experience and teach others,” Martinez said.

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