How We Started
Decades ago, back in 1979, a group of concerned parents formed New Canaan CARES in response to teen drug and alcohol use/abuse. New Canaan CARES was the result of the merger between two organizations operating in New Canaan: TAACT (The Alcohol Awareness Committee Telephone), a hotline for problems related to alcohol, and NCPDA (New Canaan Parents for Drug Awareness). While drug and alcohol prevention and education are still an integral part of CARES, the mission now encompasses the promotion of health and well-being at all levels in relation to youth, family and the community. There were once 169 other organizations nationally under the CARES (“Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Education, Services”) umbrella; however, New Canaan CARES is the only one that has survived. What has allowed New Canaan Cares to endure? Adaptability is central to its success; this organization continually reevaluates, reassesses, and modifies to better serve the community. From inception, New Canaan Cares has recognized the need for a multi-based approach to address issues surrounding drug and alcohol abuse and high risk behavior in adolescence, as well as, promoting the importance of healthy lifestyles for our youth, our families and our community.
Who We Are
OUR MISSION: New Canaan CARES is an independent non-profit community organization whose purpose is to advance the health and well-being of our youth and families. CARES provides responsive educational programs and professional development that support and strengthen parents skills, positive youth development, and healthy lifestyles.
New Canaan CARES has a voluntary Board of Directors, an Executive Director, two part-time administrative office staff and several professional consultants specializing in social media, preschool and elementary education, social work and mentoring.
New Canaan Cares’ funding comes from a variety of sources: individual donors, corporate sponsors, local granting agencies, as well as, community building/fundraising events, such as spinning/shopping for a cause, Cake4Cares and The Kitchen and Home Tour.
What We Do
New Canaan Cares provides parent programs that focus on alcohol and drug prevention/education, puberty and healthy body image, cyber safety and media exposure, nutrition and self-care, resilience and self-esteem, school success at all ages, stress and anxiety, and sibling relationships (just to name a few). We also provide online resources and a library of over 500 books (at our Elm Street Location) on these topics for anyone and everyone in the community.
New Canaan Cares provides youth programs that focus on leadership development through KidPower (elementary school level), Community Service Ambassadors (middle school level), and Leadership Challenge (high school level). We offer school workshops, such as, Mentoring Through Drama – high school students mentor their younger middle and elementary school peers through plays on varying topics such as peer pressure and being true to oneself and Project take the Lead –another social emotional learning program. Additionally, we have private workshops for youth groups, such as,The National Charity League (i.e. FriendShifts grade 7) , Girl Scouts, and SLOBS (Service League of Boys).
New Canaan Cares provides community programs, such as, Elder Buddies (our intergenerational community program that develops bonds between senior citizens and youth and fosters social and leaderships skills among all its participants).
We partner with many, many local health, wellness and human service(s) individuals and organizations within the community to educate. Some of our partners are : The Chamber of Commerce, Grace Farms, Health and Human Services, League of Women Voters, New Canaan Community Foundation, RAM Council, Town of New Canaan, New Canaan Public Schools, and Youth Services.
Our programs include in-classroom instruction, after-school workshops, and health promotion training to small and large groups of youth and adults. Additionally, we provide professional development to educators, and sponsor nationally recognized experts, with the aim of sharing practical tools and techniques with the community.
New Canaan CARES provides approximately 100 programs each year to more than 2,200 youth and 2,400 adults, including multi-session leadership training to more than 200 youth, grades 2-12 each year.
Our Future Plans
New Canaan Cares will continue EMPOWERING YOUTH, STRENGTHENING FAMILY and BUILDING COMMUNITY. We will LISTEN when our community talks and respond, as we always have, with care, compassion and creativity.