Community series will address needs of Wilton youth

In an effort to address the needs of Wilton’s young residents, youth-serving community organizations, including — but not limited to — the Wilton Youth Council, Wilton Public Schools, and Wilton Youth Services have come together to present a three-part community conversation series called Charting the Course, beginning Monday, Nov. 12.

The series was created in response to Dr. Suniya Luthar’s presentation in March, which revealed that about 30% of Wilton students exhibit symptoms that are indicative of anxiety and depression — a rate that is more than four times higher than national norms. Wilton students also reported elevated rates of use of substances, including alcohol, marijuana and e-cigarettes.

Wilton Youth Council Vice President Genevieve Eason said Luthar’s talk was “illuminating and sparked interest in gathering more data about how our kids are doing.”

Andrea Leonardi, the school district’s assistant superintendent for special services, said the purpose of the series is “to give the community the opportunity to think about whether our current achievement culture is actually resulting in success for our students.”

“We hear from parents with children of all ages that they are grappling with difficult issues, and parents wonder if stress is having unintended consequences,” said Leonardi.

“There are fights at home over homework. Kids aren’t always getting enough sleep. Some parents feel that they’ve lost the ability to make decisions about how they spend family time.”

Leonardi said the Charting the Course series is “a chance to examine some of the challenges families and schools face in preparing children for healthy, successful futures.”

Events

The first installment of the three-part series will entail two screenings of Race to Nowhere — a documentary that examines the dark side of America’s achievement culture — Monday, Nov. 12, in the Wilton High School Clune Center.

The first screening will take place at 10 a.m. and the other at 7 p.m. Each screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with a panel of local experts, moderated by Dr. Roni Cohen-Sandler, a clinical psychologist, author, and educator from Weston. Parents, educators, concerned members of the community, and students in middle school and up are encouraged to attend.

The series will continue in February, with two screenings on Monday, Feb. 4, of the movie Beyond Measure, which explores innovative solutions that schools and communities across the country are pursuing. The last installment in the series will be a community conversation the evening of Monday, Feb. 25. More information about the February events will be available at later dates.

Admission to the Race to Nowhere screenings is free and registration is recommended.

To register for the 10 a.m. session, visit: RaceToNowhereWiltonAM.eventbrite.com.

To register for the 7 p.m. session, visit: RaceToNowhereWiltonPM.eventbrite.com.

Questions can be directed to Eason at [email protected].

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