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Season's Greetings Friends!

Happy Holidays from the Connecticut YOUTH Forum office!

Press the play button above now for a special YOUTH Forum video message featuring our amazing Leadership Network. They meet with me and Skylar once a month to shape programming into what you see at our events. They have been busy little elves and sure would appreciate your help!

Our Annual Hartford Children's Holiday Party on December 19 was a joyous celebration of kindness, compassion and goodwill for everyone. It never fails to put a smile on our faces when we see the wonder and amazement in the eyes of the many Hartford elementary school children who attend.

In this edition of YF 411, we'll be showcasing highlights from our Leadership Network holiday gathering, the Student-Panelist Roundtable for The Future of Higher Education and, of course, the Annual Hartford Children's Holiday Party! Thank you to the 90+ YOUTH Forum elves that volunteered!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday Season! See you in 2017!

Schedule of Events

Friday, January 20, 2017
5 - 7:30 PM
Leadership Network Meeting
The CT Forum Office
750 Main Street, Hartford, 2nd Floor

Be an ambassador for the YOUTH Forum and an advocate for what is important at your school! At Leadership Network meetings, students gather once a month to shape the topics for YF School Sessions, Conferences, the Student Exchange Event and other YOUTH Forum activities. Attend our next meeting and gain leadership experience in Teamwork, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making.

Contact Alex Taylor to RSVP and attend.

Tuesday, January 24
3:30 - 5:30 PM
Metropolitan Learning Center (MLC)
School Session
Topic: Competition Vs. Unity

Registration opens for this meeting on Tuesday, January 4! MLC will host the 4th School Session of the year. A group of up to 200 students will meet from to discuss the topic, "Competition Vs. Unity." Don't miss out! Limited transportation assistance is available to groups of 8 or more. Member Schools are, as always, guaranteed transportation. Teachers: contact Alex Taylor to RSVP and request transportation assistance. First come, first served. Get your RSVPs in on January 4th to lock in your school's attendance.

RSVP Here!

Violence in Our Lives Project Workshop

On November 29, the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) hosted 80 Connecticut high school students from the YOUTH Forum on campus for a timely dialogue about abuse prevention in dating relationships. During their welcome remarks, Kathleen M. Barrett, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Counseling and Applied Behavioral Studies, and Molly Dever, Director of Admissions, highlighted the importance of this session to build an individual’s confidence, respect for others, and leadership.

Four graduate students from the USJ’s School Counseling program also presented to the high school students after training with the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Travis Church, Dayshima Jackson, Rachel Pac, and Dana Schwab offered the Coalition’s insight into the reality of dating abuse – a relevant topic to the audience, as 15 percent of teens who have been in a relationship have reported being physically assaulted by their partner.

Check out some great pictures taken at the event.

Travis Church created a safe space for YOUTH Forum teens to be seen, heard and validated.

Students from Connecticut River Academy asked great follow up questions to the presentation.

Dayshima Jackson talked to the YOUTH Forum about how to find help and avoid the barriers to finding help.

Event leaders: (front row, L to R): Kathleen Barrett, Ed.D.; Rachel Pac; Skylar Ives, CT YOUTH Forum Associate; Dana Schwab; (back row, L to R) Travis Church; Alex Taylor, CT YOUTH Forum Program Manager; Dayshima Jackson.

Student-Panelist Roundtable

The YOUTH Forum is a community outreach program of The Connecticut Forum, a 25-year-old nonprofit organization in Hartford that brings people together for an open and honest exchange of ideas. The Connecticut Forum does this primarily through large-scale Forums at The Bushnell theater featuring extraordinary guests and topics. YOUTH Forum can participate in these programs and many earn the special opportunity to interact with panelists during the Student-Panelist Roundtable before each Forum begins. Eight students are selected to participate at each Forum night for this exclusive opportunity based on their enthusiasm, participation and positivity at YOUTH Forum events and meetings.

Check out some great shots of The Future of Higher Education Student-Panelist Roundtable which featured panelists Daphne Koller, Arne Duncan, Freeman A. Hrabowski, III and moderated by John Dankosky.

Congrats to Saomai, Malik, Julianna, Kurt, Sasha, Raina, Avadhut, Jnana and Alex!

Saomai from Hall High School and Malik from Connecticut River Academy.

Julianna from CT River Academy and Kurt from Granby Memorial High School.

YF students go face to face with their favorite panelists.

That's a wrap! Congrats! Job well done!

Leadership Network Holiday Gathering

On December 9, the Leadership Network met for a small holiday gathering. All students that attended baked a Christmas cookie or treat. They also began work on theme development for the 23rd Annual Student Exchange Event. Great job, L. Net!

23rd Annual Hartford Children's Holiday Party

On December 19, the YF became "elves" for the Annual Hartford Children's Holiday Party at The Gershon Fox Ballroom on
960 Main Street. Each year, hundreds of Hartford elementary school students are treated to a day of fun with gifts, Santa, lunch and more! Special thanks to Marquee Events for hosting!

Below are some festive pics taken by Joe Piselli from this year's party!

YOUTH Forum "elves" started their day caroling as elementary students entered the 960 Main entrance.

More than 350 Hartford elementary enjoyed crafts and holiday fun guided by YOUTH Forum elves.

What kind of Holiday Party would it be without a visit from Frosty the Snowman?

YOUTH Forum elves showcased some amazing talent, not only singing, but dancing and rapping!

CT Forum Founding President Richard Sugarman shares a smile with Santa and one happy child.

Alex and Skylar, pose for a quick picture in front of the Christmas tree. 

Forum staffer Ryan Beach announced schools to join the line to visit Santa.

Santa handed out 300 gifts! (Yes, all of the children were on his "Nice" list.)

Elementary students signed their names as specials thanks to Marquee Events for graciously hosting the Annual Hartford Children's Holiday Party.

Connecticut Forum staff posed for one last picture together after the party. Job well done!