YWCA Expands House of Teens Programming Through CDC Funding

More than 150 community-based organizations throughout the United States, including YWCA New Britain, have been awarded grants from the CDC Foundation to aid health equity and vaccination efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

YWCA New Britain’s House of Teens program, located in the East Side Community Center (ESCC) at 600 East Street, centers programming around the healthy development of female identifying teens. With local partners, the House of Teens offers youth an on-sight behavioral health clinic with one-on-one counseling, trauma informed fitness and nutrition classes, civic engagement and advocacy opportunities, pregnancy prevention programming, and an out-of-school community health worker (CHW) training academy -part of the college and career ladder -linking teens to jobs in the public health arena.

CDC funding has allowed YWCA New Britain to train additional youth CHWs and grow its COVID-19 recovery team, an effort launched earlier this year thanks to support from the Aetna Foundation. This team is focused on reducing vaccine hesitancy, disseminating information about the COVID-19 pandemic, and addressing health and social inequities on New Britain’s East Side.

According to data from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, 53.2% of New Britain residents had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 47.8% were fully vaccinated as of September 1, 2021. Through efforts such as community outreach, vaccination events, and social media campaigns, the youth CHWs are establishing themselves as trusted health ambassadors to their families, friends, and other residents as they earn credit towards a state certification as CHWs.

“Advancing health equity has been our north star throughout the pandemic response and ensuring all our communities have access to the COVID-19 vaccines, and resources to make an informed decision to vaccinate, is both our priority and our collective responsibility,” stated Lauren Smith, CDC Foundation’s chief healthy equity and strategy officer. “We must do all we can to promote vaccination with a particular urgency and focus on communities that have been the most impacted.”

YWCA New Britain deeply appreciates the CDC Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Google.org, Prologis Inc., and all others who helped fund this award to support our community health work.