A survey about neighborhood needs was given primarily to parents of children living in Asylum Hill. Parents representing about 10% of the 2,800 children up to age 18 took the survey. Results reflect the tendency of many residents to ask for all programs/services (i.e., rate every question a 5), and therefore distinctions between questions are difficult to make except in a few cases such as the need for computing or email which rated lowest. Responses could be biased since many participants had children actively involved in West Middle School or the Asylum Hill Boys and Girls Club. The most significant result was parents’ emphasis on education as the “one thing that would help your child the most”. Surprisingly, education was significantly ahead of any other concern such as safety and/or health care.
Healthy Hill Kids
The purpose of this initiative was to check children’s health, offer advice to improve overall health, and encourage parents to find a medical home if they did not already have one. AHLZ partnered with the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Boys and Girls Club, West Middle School, and Asylum Hill Congregational Church. Screening started August 2005 and we completed the screening phase in the latter part of 2006.
West Middle School Initiative
This initiative focused on improving student learning at West Middle School, the public elementary/middle school in Asylum Hill. Both children and parents must contribute to improve learning, so this program had several components. In 2006 we hosted tutors (both paid and volunteer) to help third and fourth graders improve reading. Tutoring during the school day evolved into the After School Academy working with grades two through five to improve reading, math, homework, and wellness. Number of children served varied from 50 to 125 during the years 2007 to 2012. In the 2011 – 2012 school year we had 25 tutors and instructors to assist 100 students. In 2012, West Middle had the largest increase in Connecticut Mastery Test scores (compared to the previous year) experienced this decade.
Unfortunately, many parents are focused on meeting their family’s basic needs, and are not spending enough time helping with their children’s education. AHLZ staff did spend and still spends time with parents who needed assistance with a variety of issues such as food, clothing, housing, and employment. Our objective is to empower parents to take a leadership role in determining their children’s future.