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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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Letter: Outback events to continue as scheduled

Published 12:07 pm, Saturday, February 1, 2014
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The Outback continues to welcome students while we seek a new individual to assist with youth programs. All of the Outback's programs and events, as well as those programs offered in partnership with other groups, are unaffected by this change and will continue as scheduled.

Recent media attention has highlighted an alleged incident involving an Outback employee using inappropriate language in the Saxe cafeteria during lunchtime on Jan. 16. The youth officer of the New Canaan Police Department is currently conducting an investigation of the report. The facts in the incident have not been released nor have the police disclosed them to Outback board members. This employee, who joined the Outback as the youth program director two months ago, is no longer affiliated with the Outback.

Under the leadership of Community Director Christine Simmons, the Outback's talented and experienced program staff offers events such as high school band and comedy nights, middle school theme parties and "TGIF" every Friday afternoon.

The Outback also has recently embarked on an initiative to provide new programs for students and parents in partnership with other organizations that serve local youth. The first event resulting from these partnerships will take place in a few weeks. The Outback will host a workshop on "Understanding the Teenage Brain, Why They do What They Do" an event jointly sponsored by the asset building organizations in New Canaan: Grace Community Church; Outback; New Canaan Cares; YMCA; St. Marks; and Young Life. It is scheduled for Feb. 9, from 11 to 1 p.m. and lunch will be provided by New Canaan Youth Services.

This year the center is building on its past repertoire of wellness and enrichment programs by continuing to partner with outside experts. We now offer cooking, art, chess, fashion design, yoga and kickboxing among other classes. In addition, we are introducing several new initiatives including a full year's series of empowerment programs such as a self-defense class and other activities to address the issue of underage drinking.

Other programs in the works involve community service projects such as students cooking meals at the Outback kitchen for a homeless shelter and linking together with local nonprofit community organizations to work on community service projects. Each month will feature a different organization and a different project. This way our youth have an opportunity to learn about the many charitable organizations in our community and the value of giving as a part of life.

We welcome anyone who is passionate about helping young people to get involved at the Outback and work with us to create solutions. We strongly believe that the youth of New Canaan should have a place in town to call their own. The board is committed to investing our time and energy to help our youth develop the assets needed to make good decisions and thrive.

The mission of the Outback is to provide a positive environment where youth and adults are able to socialize, participate in entrepreneurial and enrichment activities, and contribute to the community in a meaningful way.

Outback Board of Directors