Tag Archives: Westport Youth Commission

Playing In The Sand

“Make hay while the sun shines,” farmers say.

In Westport, we translate that as: “Go play at the beach when it’s nice out.”

Castles in the Sand — a fundraiser for Homes With Hope — drew a great crowd today. Teams, ranging from 2 or 3 people to a dozen — representing civic organizations, businesses or just friends — paid money for a pile of sand. Two hours later, they’d created clever (and very temporary) sculptures.

A group of Staples students celebrated National Train Day by building this locomotive below — hauling cargo behind it. Eric Essagof took this photo, tweeted it, and got a quick shout-out from National Train Day organizers.

Wakeman Town Farm built a hand holding a seed. There were animals, surfers and the Taj Mahal. The Saugatuck Congregational Church built, well, the Saugatuck Congregational Church.

And — this being the beach — “Jaws.”

Beth Carter sent these 2 photos:

Nearby, the 2nd annual Westport Youth Commission-sponsored volleyball tournament was underway.  The group has worked hard all year to bring police and teenagers together. This event was one result.

The cops wore orange t-shirts. The teenagers and 20-somethings wore everything else.

Westport Teens Dodge Cops

It’s not often a kid can whip balls at a cop’s head — and get away with it.

And vice versa.

But last night in the Staples fieldhouse, 100 teenagers and a dozen Westport police officers did just that.

The event was Dodge-a-Cop — the Westport Youth Commission‘s 1st-ever dodgeball tournament. It’s hard to tell who had more fun: the guys (and gals) with guns, or the kids who run from them.

Actually, that was the whole idea: getting police and teenagers to interact somewhere other than at a traffic stop or house party.

A small part of the large "Dodge a Cop" crowd. The police wore tie-dyes.

The Youth Commission — whose 15 teenage and 15 adult members include police officers Ned Batlin and Sereneti Dobson — and Staples’ Teen Awareness Group have been examining ways to help teenagers see cops as human beings who care about kids. And ways to help Westport policemen and women — most of whom do not live in town — see teenagers as more than just stereotypes too.

Police officer Ned Batlin proudly poses with players.

Staples dodgeball players — who came from a broad swath of the student body — formed their own teams. At least one officer joined each team.

The only qualifications to play: an arm. Guts. And $20 per team.

Because Dodge-a-Cop also served as a fundraiser — for the Toys for Tots drive, the Westport Police Department’s annual collection.

It was a great evening. Competitive dodgeball was played. Funds were raised. Pizza was eaten. Cops and kids hung out together. No one got arrested.

And the winners got t-shirts.

Which said: “I Dodged a Cop.”

Four members of the Goons Inc. team (from left): Guerric Vornle von Haagenfels, Jack Dobrich, Thomas Cirillo and Colin Davis.

Police officers Howie Simpson and Eric Woods take time out from their warmup throws.

Isaac Stein is all business before the tournament.

Just Another Day At The Beach

It’s not exactly beach weather, but hundreds of folks headed to Compo today.

Castles in the Sand — a fundraiser for Homes With Hope — drew a great crowd.  A team from Tauck World Discovery created a cruise ship, while a crew from the Westport YMCA constructed “the new building” at Mahackeno.  (“It took them 10 years to make that?!” one Y’s wise guy asked.)

Plenty of families and friends came up with their own designs too.

Nearby, the Westport Youth Commission-sponsored volleyball tournament was underway.  The group has worked hard this year to bring police and teenagers together; one result was two teams on which cops and kids played together.  They wore neon t-shirts, proclaiming “Police & Youth Connect.”

Honoring James Bacharach

You may not know the name “James Bacharach.”  But most Westporters are familiar with him nonetheless.  A founder of the Westport Youth Commission, his enduring legacy is the Bacharach Community — 3 homes on Wassell Lane and 1 on the Post Road, providing emergency shelter to mothers and children.

Bacharach was a tireless volunteer in service to his community, and one of the town’s most prestigious awards is named in his honor.

You may not have heard of the James Bacharach Award either.  Presented annually to 1 or more high school seniors, there’s no money attached to it.  And it comes too late to count for college admissions.

That’s the idea, though:  It’s presented for selfless, no-return-asked volunteer efforts, right here in Westport.

The Youth Commission is soliciting nominations for this year’s Bacharach Award.  (Full disclosure:  I am a member of the commission, and help select the honorees.)

Anyone — students, teachers, parents, organization members, volunteers — can nominate a high school senior living in Westport.  He or she does not have to go to Staples.

Here’s the catch:  The award is for impressive community service in Westport.  Previous winners have included students who have given enormous time and effort to EMS, worked on local diversity issues, and set up mentoring programs.

Building toilets in Honduras — as worthy as that is — is not what the Bacharach Award is about.  It’s for hometown, home-grown service.

To nominate a worthy high school senior, click here.  The deadline is May 16.  For more information contact Elaine Daignault: 203-341-1065; elained@westportct.gov.

(The Youth Commission also seeks new youth and adult members for the upcoming school year.  If interested, contact Elaine Daignault as above.)

A Special Scavenger Hunt

Youth Commission members meet at Toquet Hall, following the recent scavenger hunt.

Youth Commission members meet at Toquet Hall, following the recent scavenger hunt.

Upon this site our garbage once sat, and with a river view at that!

One of only 2 left in town.  This one is the busiest, with little parking to be found.

A work of art that many pass, not in a museum or behind glass.  Near some stores but has no price, a portrait of a town that’s nice.

Maya Angelou it’s not — or even Dr. Seuss — but poetry isn’t the main point.  The clues above were part of the Youth Commission’s recent 1st meeting of the fall.

Instead of the usual orientation and board meeting, Elaine Daignault and Kevin Godburn created a photo scavenger hunt.  The 5 teams — each half adults, half youth — had clear instructions:  Solve the riddles, find the location in downtown Westport, and photograph it.

Each team approached the challenge differently.  One solved every clue first, then took photos — but darkness fell, and their pictures were hard to see.

Others split up and attempted to solve the puzzle in smaller groups.  They ran into each other often, on their way to taking photos.

Some groups divided themselves geographically, while one photographed home-made signs, rather than actually finding each location.

Adults — especially those in town a long time — had an advantage, but teenagers enjoyed interacting with them, while learning about the town.

A few clues stumped everyone:  those leading to “historic plaques,” the actual location of the Westport Community Theater (in the basement of Town Hall), a former firehouse (either the YMCA or Waterworks on Wilton Road), and the only octagonal-roof barn in Connecticut (Westport Historical Society).

The winners?  “Everyone,” Elaine — Youth Services coordinator –said.  “Youth and adults worked together, much like they do throughout the  year, by coming to the table as equals and listening to each other to get the job done.

“They got to know someone they probably wouldn’t have, had they only sat across the table from each other at a monthly meeting. 

“It was not meant to be a competition, but a lesson in how various groups might work together to reach the same goal.  The Youth Commission is a special group of people, and each year I’m excited to see how the youth and adults approach issues that affect kids and families in town.”

(PS:  Here are the answers to the clues above:  Library; Post Office; tunnel from Main Street to the Parker Harding lot.)