Web site aims to help youth

Aldermen in the Youth Services Committee are looking to the virtual world to keep New Haven teenagers off the streets and in after school programs.

The city has funded the creation of a youth-oriented Web site that will help local children and their parents search for sports teams, music groups and other kid-friendly after school activities, Youth Services Director Che Dawson announced at a Wednesday night Youth Services Committee meeting in City Hall. The “Youth Asset Mapping Web site” is slated to begin a trial run in February and formally launch next summer.

“This is long overdue, and kudos to you for finally getting it off the ground,” Ward 6 Alderwoman Dolores Colon said, directing thanks to Dawson. “This effort is going to prevent overlapping of services. It’s going to spread the wealth.”

Users seeking information about youth programs on the Web site will be able to organize search results by the type of activity, the participant age range or the neighborhood in which the activity is located. Organizations on the Youth Asset Mapping Web site will also have the ability to advertise their hours of operation and the bus lines necessary to reach the program.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Rachel Plattus ’09 asked Dawson whether the new Web site would be integrated into existing city webpages.

But technological advancements are not the only way aldermen plan to help New Haven youths stay out of trouble. The Youth Committee plans to support Congressional legislation that will provide grant money to curb youth violence, gang activity and gun-related crime.

Representatives from around the country, including Connecticut representatives Christopher Shays and John Larson, are responsible for promoting the Community in Action Neighborhood Defense and Opportunity bill and the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education Act. (The two measures are nicknamed the “CAN DO bill” and the “PROMISE act.”)

After Ward 2 Alderwoman Gina Calder ’03 EPH ’08 explained the purpose of the bill, Plattus questioned how New Haven would ensure that it sees some of the proposed federal funding.

“What is the process to have our name at the top of the list to get some of those dollars?” Plattus questioned.

Calder said she argued the city’s case to Connecticut representatives, urging them to consider providing grant assistance to urban centers other than the ones that often receive national attention, such as Chicago and Atlanta. Calder also pledged to add an item to the aldermanic resolution supporting the two federal bills — the item would explicitly request that Congress seriously consider New Haven for federal grant funding.

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