Unique After-School Program Sparks Students' Interests

Program Provides Experiences Beyond Academics

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Not all students find academics interesting or rewarding. Like fish out of water in the high school environment, they need something beyond books and tests to build their self-esteem.

Such was the case with four high school students who were offered the chance to take a blacksmithing class through a New Milford agency that receives funding from United Way of Western Connecticut. The four students, who come from ALICE households, were referred to the program by high school guidance counselors because they struggle with academics and other everyday life challenges.

One participant, who loves being outside and getting his hands dirty (as opposed to being indoors in a classroom), flourished when he was able to learn this unusual skill. Meeting the agency’s staff and other
students in the program seemed to motivate him. His grandmother, who is his primary caretaker, was very proud of his accomplishments. The program provided him with other supports and services, including a career fair trip, to keep him directed toward success beyond high school.

Another participant was given the opportunity to take this class as a reward for his improved attitude and greater effort in school last year. He appreciated the recognition and enjoyed time away from school while working closely with the blacksmith instructor.

“These students excelled!” reports the program coordinator. “They interacted with our professional blacksmith instructor, worked with sharp tools and hot equipment, and learned a very unique craft.”

With the help of United Way funding, this agency is able to offer unique and creative programs to youth who benefit from experiences beyond the world of academics. As a United Way donor, you help to offer struggling teens insight into a broader world of opportunities.

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