Building Healthy Communities through Empowered Relationships

Building Healthy Communities through Empowered Relationships

Building Healthy Communities through Empowered Relationships

Child & Family Agency has partnered with the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS) and the Department of Children & Families (DCF) to pilot a 5-year initiative – CT STRONG (Seamless Transition and Recovery Opportunities through Network Growth). CT STRONG works to engage and connect transition-age youths and young adults (16-25) who have, or are at risk for, behavioral health disorders to high-quality care. One of the goals of the program is:  To enhance CT’s strong transitional services by creating a strengths-based, family-focused, gender-responsive and recovery-oriented system of care that is attentive to the culture of the family and of youth.

Building Healthy Communities through Empowered Relationships is part of our effort to achieve this goal. We recognize the immense challenges of violence, addiction, and poverty faced by many youth and young adults in New London. And, we believe that when social expectations and cultural norms are shifted in ways that both transform masculinity and advance gender equality, relationships are healthier, leaving individuals, families and communities stronger.

To support this work, we are partnering with MERGE for Equality, Inc. (MERGE), which brings to our project a 34-year legacy of transforming masculinity, preventing violence and advancing gender equality, in communities of North America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Our 4 goals for this initiative include:

  • To strengthen connections amongst organizations and the community through collaboration and outreach, reducing redundant efforts on this issue.
  • To create a safer community by increasing both emotional and physical safety.
  • To empower youth and young adults to discover, understand the impact of and share the personal narrative by which they live, and would like to live, their lives.
  • To sustain the momentum of the project by developing continued opportunities for youth and young adult voices to be empowered and engaged.

We plan to achieve this through 4 phases:

  • 1-Day Community-Building Workshop, facilitated by MERGE

Thursday, April 14, 2016.

The morning session 8:30-12 is for both community youth and partner organizations, and will offer an experiential introduction to the ways in which boys and men are socialized in our  society. LUNCH served from 12-1 The afternoon session 1-4 is reserved for our partner organizations, with a focus on creating shared understanding and vision that encompasses our different roles in the community, to promote our collective efforts as well as developing the evaluation of our project.

2)  Film screening of “The Mask We Live In.”  TBD.

This community-building event will include viewing of a powerful 90-minute film, followed by public conversation, facilitated by MERGE.

3)  2-Day Healthy Men and Boys Training. May 18-19, 2016. – more details to follow

This experiential training will engage youth and adults from CFA and partner organizations about male gender socialization and the strategies and skills for promoting the development of compassionate, non-violent and equitable boys and men. This highly participatory program, uses personal reflection and cross-gender dialogue, and will be facilitated by MERGE.

4)  Youth Story Workshop. TBD.

This program will allow youth and young adults from our community to participate in a 16-hour workshop spread over 6 weeks that encourage youth to find their voice and share their stories through various artistic mediums. This final piece will culminate in a Performance where the youth will have the opportunity to share their work. The program will be coordinated by CFA, with technical assistance from MERGE.

We hope that you can attend on Thursday, April 14, 2016.  Please contact either of us with questions.  Many thanks.


Erin Saylor, LCSW, Associate Director


Marisa Valdiserra, Coordinator