Spring has finally come to Connecticut and throughout our programs, the signs of growth and productivity are evident. This is certainly true on our Litchfield campus. The sap collection buckets that the CJR boys installed on some of the larger maple trees along the road as a part of our growing maple sugaring enterprise were removed just as the daffodils emerged. As the daffodils bloom, the barns on our farm are filling with newborn farm babies - lambs, kid goats, calves and piglets have all been born over the past few weeks.
In all of our programs, we are seeing other welcome signs of growth as well. I am pleased to report that we recently opened a second residential cottage for boys on our Litchfield campus and a new Family Support Center in New Haven. These programs will enable us to serve more children, youth and families than ever before.
At CJR, we encourage at-risk, special needs and troubled youth and families to focus on their strengths and to use their special abilities, talents and resources to overcome difficulties and challenges.
Many of the students in our education programs have learning difficulties - particularly with their academic subject areas, such as mathematics. Our vocational classes help remove the stress of classroom learning. This winter and early Spring, as the boys tapped maple trees and learned about harvesting sap to make syrup, they honed their math skills. As they determined how many spouts and buckets are needed for selected trees in various locations on campus; how many yards of tubing would be needed to run through a grove of 400 trees; and how many feet of tubing they would need to purchase to complete the project, the need for good math skills became obvious.
Our students learned that approximately 40 gallons of sap makes only one gallon of maple syrup, and they know that thousands of gallons of sap are needed for a productive harvest. They learned about pints, quarts, and half gallon measures as well. Suddenly, the math problems that stumped them when they were behind a desk made a lot more sense when they were harvesting sap, making maple syrup, or measuring out feed for our animals.
At our newly opened Family Support Center in New Haven, an extremely shy student who struggled to be comfortable with himself and others, now seeks out the attention of our staff. Shortly after he was referred to our program, we became aware that 15 year-old Jonathan (not his real name) was exceptionally artistic. Social skills were difficult for Jonathan, but he made beautiful paper sculptures that attracted the praise and interest of everyone who saw his work.
Like one of the daffodils that opened its buds in our flower beds this Spring, Jonathan has blossomed and flourished in the short period of time that he and his mother have been receiving support services. Every day after school, the boy who once had a difficult time feeling comfortable with others, now looks forward to coming to our Family Support Center to socialize with the other children and the CJR staff. His artistic skills and beautifully crafted paper sculptures have helped Jonathan develop a sense of pride and purpose. He is excited to have an unlimited supply of paper for his creations and continues to win accolades for his creativity and craftsmanship. For the first time in his life, Jonathan feels admired and and positive about himself. He hopes to attend art classes in the future and our staff will work with his school to ensure that he has a way of engaging and developing his artistic abilities.
With your help, we provide "wrap around" services for children and families at our New Haven Family Support Center and three others in New Britain, Meriden, and Waterbury. While we are working with the boys and girls referred for service, we are also helping their parents and family members by teaching them how to be effective advocates for their children and by providing the support they need to develop new parenting skills.
Helping at-risk and troubled children has never been more important than it is today.
With your assistance and support, the Connecticut Junior Republic teaches young people that they can build upon their inherent strengths to be productive, empowered and successful. As they learn to develop these strengths and to make a place for themselves in society, it is very important that they feel hopeful and supported.
The generous support we receive from friends in the community helps us raise the funds necessary to provide work-based learning summer programs; to teach children about the importance of responsible decision making so they can focus on careers and education; and how to avoid risky behavior that might lead to teen parenthood, injury, or violence.
The involvement of generous friends also helps CJR provide once in-a-lifetime experiences for the boys and girls in our programs. Working with the animals on the CJR Farm, or learning to boat or swim in the Bantam River, opening a first bank account, participating in culinary arts class at our work-based learning summer programs in Torrington and Waterbury, or experiencing the therapeutic and educational benefits of art and music classes, are just a few of the opportunities that young people experience at CJR through generous support.
The involvement and support of many friends is critical to our work with at-risk, special needs and troubled youth. Gift to CJR have a lasting positive impact on some of Connecticut's neediest and most disadvantaged boys and girls for generations to come. With the help of friends like you, they can turn their lives in a positive direction and become constructive and contributing members of their home, schools and communities. For many of our kids, a productive and fulfilled life is just a dream. With the help of generous friends, we can enable them to make this dream a reality.