Thursday, October 7, 2010
Youth Services Awards
Nyanda Maille, a graduate of Middletown High School in 2010 was recognized as the state’s Young Leader of the Year. She was praised for her efforts within her community most notably for her time spent in YSB activities and programs. She has served as a member and president of Dragons In Action (DIA), a two-term board member of the Youth Services Bureau Advisory Board in the city’s Youth in Government program, a mentor in Oddfellows Playhouse’s Arts Explorers program, worked on projects that promoted safe driving on New Years, and was part of a teen research team that explored the causes of negative teen stereotypes.
One of her more significant contributions came during her senior year through her work with Peace Jam International which started with her meeting a representative at the 2009 CYSA conference. Nyanda invited them to a DIA meeting, organized her peers around the issue of racism and hate, helped organize meetings with local anti-racism groups as well as a trip to the UCONN School of Social Work. The end result was a two-hour event held in partnership with public school district around institutionalized racism, a topic most likely gone unaddressed without her leadership.
YSB Coordinator Justin Carbonella praised the young leader “as a young woman with a strong moral center, a solid work ethic, and a keen sense of her leadership abilities.” He went on to add, "what is also to be appreciated about Nyanda is not only her personal commitment to these issues and to her community, but her ability to infect people with her passion and mobilize others to be involved as well."
The second Middletown related award winner of the day was Co:Lab, a small design firm based out of Hartford, CT who has partnered with the Middletown YSB to help promote their youth development initiative based on the 40 Developmental Assets. The relationship between the two started with some freelance work Troy Monroe did for a poster series back in 2008. Monroe, a Middletown native, helped design a project that promoted the results from a 2006 survey that detailed perspectives of young people in the community. The posters went on to win the 2009 Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council Prevention Program of the Year award and marked the first of several projects designed by Monroe and Co:Lab founder Rich Hollant.
The newest phase of materials, which have been funded through the support of the Middlesex United Way, include a new website called www.assetpromise.org<http://www.assetpromise.org/>. The site, which was released in late August of this year, serves as a central hub for community members to learn more about the asset framework and asks individuals and organizations to "make a promise" on behalf of Middletown youth. Co:Lab was awarded as CYSA's Special Recognition recipient for that project as well as an innovative button campaign that will be used to help launch the recently released site and a short 5 minute film based on interviews with local teens, which was shown to rave reviews at the conference.
In his nomination to CYSA, Carbonella praised the work of the business and the fact that they have delivered their services at a fraction of what they might typically cost. He also recognized their effort to form their Design is Love initiative and subsequent website (www.designislove.com<http://www.designislove.com/>) to help connect other not-for-profits and human services organizations with creatives who can help develop and share their message with others.
Carbonella credited the successes of the both award winners' to the Middletown community's ability to recognized the value of young people and the importance of creating meaningful and intentional opportunities for them to be celebrated and used as resources.