Class teaches advocacy

NAUGATUCK — Local parents are benefiting from a class that teaches them how to be better advocates for their children.

Soon, the community will benefit from their efforts.

Twelve parents have spent the past 10 weeks participating in classes run through the Parent Leadership Training Institute, which is overseen by the Connecticut Commission on Children. The 20-week program is implemented locally by Naugatuck Discovery, a collaborative of the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls that has a mission to help children succeed in all facets of their growth and development from birth to age 8.

This is the first time Naugatuck Discovery has offered the program. It received a $30,000 grant to teach the classes to Naugatuck and Beacon Falls parents. Parents and two Naugatuck High School students who are also in the program have learned everything from becoming familiar with city, state and federal law, utilizing the media, public speaking, understanding government policy and municipal budgets and several other skills, said Jill Mahoney, head of Naugatuck Discovery.

Parents are beginning their final projects for the course, which requires them to develop a community program based on their passions that also contributes to the well-being of children in Naugatuck and Beacon Falls.

The projects they are working on include: building a library at Salem Elementary School; obtaining lost and found items that have not been claimed and giving them out to children; a program to help children boost self esteem; a back to school rally; beautifying the park at Andrew Avenue School; an after-school culinary arts program; a program that trains parents to learn how to use computer programs like PowerSchool, Parent Portal and others that the school system uses to help parents track their children’s’ progress; a summer reading kickoff and book swap; working with Naugatuck Youth Services to get more programs off the ground; collecting art supplies for Naugatuck schools; creating awareness for an Autism Support Group at the Naugatuck YMCA and creating a community bulletin board at the Naugatuck Ecumenical Food Bank.

Parent Lorraine Swierbitowicz of Naugatuck wants to build the library at Salem School.
She said the course has been extremely beneficial.

“I think what I’m gaining is a group of other parents and people who I can go to get support for something I’m doing in the community,” she said. “And I can support their initiatives.”