Hartford youth program helping to foster positive progress

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HARTFORD --  The recent murder of 15-year-old Keon Huff and other crimes involving teens and young adults, is putting the focus on efforts to help Hartford’s youth before it's too late.

After going in and out of jail for small crimes, Hartford resident, Rodney Carr, said he felt alone and thought his life was over with no way out. That was until he joined Hartford’s Youth Service Corps.

“I didn't want to be around people. I'm more social now. I'm networking and I’m gaining experience from different jobs,” said Carr.

Carr is one of more than 250 people who make up the service corps. People between the ages of 16 and 24 are hired to do part-time work focused on improving the city and their lives.

Hartford resident, Tyanuna Bell, said the service corps changed her life after dropping out of school and a brush with the law.

“It gives you that comfort you don't get at home. They give you that love here you don't find at home,” said Bell.

Director of the Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation, Kimberly Oliver, said the city is monitoring children starting in kindergarten to provide them with the right resources.

However, this youth service corps was implemented by the mayor and Our Piece of the Pie (OPP) to help children most in need, by designing a program with interesting work and good pay to keep them engaged.

“They're facing so many barriers already. If they don't find it interesting or relatable, it's very difficult to get them to want to stay and actually persist,” said Oliver.

“It's also connecting them with a broader range of services that OPP provides from mentorship to social and emotional learning support to career training and career preparation,” said Mayor Bronin.

Mayor Bronin is hosting a Town Hall focused on public safety, Tuesday, March 28th at the Wilson-Gray YMCA at 5:30pm.