October 4, 2023

Cooley Dickinson Hospital Awards $30K for Youth Wellbeing Programs in Amherst

October 4, 2023

Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s healthy communities committee has awarded $30,000 to support wellbeing programs at three organizations that serve BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) youth.

The recipients are Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Hampshire County, the Amherst Regional School System, and Community Leaders United by Overcoming Hardships (CLUBOH). Each will receive a $10,000 grant.

The hospital’s three-year community health improvement plan, which runs through 2025, identified supporting youth well-being as a priority, with a particular focus on BIPOC youth in Amherst.

“The work being done by these organizations, in support of our local youth, is outstanding and it’s a privilege to support them,” said Cooley Dickinson president and chief operating officer Dr. Lynnette Watkins. “These projects are critical for not only the current health and wellness of our youth, but for the future of our entire community.”

BBBS of Hampshire County will use the funds to expand mentoring opportunities for BIPOC youth in Amherst. Specifically, their project will address the need to offer trauma-informed support services for low-income children, with a focus on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. Officials say the project will help address the need for quality youth programs for those children living in low-income housing, with mentorships supporting children’s confidence, compassion, and a reduction in social isolation.

“Our program is an ideal fit with Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s priority to build unified communities that listen to youth and support them,” said BBBS program director Susan Nicastro. “We are so grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the hospital as we work together to support youth in reaching their full potential through one-to-one mentoring relationships.”

Amherst High School will use the funds for its speaker series “Breaking Barriers: Conversations on Race and Class”, which is designed to create a safe and inclusive space for students and educators to engage in discussions about race and class. Officials say the goal is to engage a significant portion of the community,
creating a ripple effect of positive change by equipping individuals with the knowledge and tools to address issues of race and class in their everyday lives.

“This effort will serve as a valuable educational tool, enabling ongoing learning and dialogue for our Amherst and ARHS communities,” said principal Talib Sadiq. “I appreciate Cooley Dickinson’s efforts to support inclusive and equitable atmospheres all throughout our community.”

CLUBOH will use the funds to expand its college tours of historically black colleges, adding additional selection slots for Amherst high schoolers. The organization also plans on hosting holistic career development nights for local youth and families. Lesson plans are designed to help youth explore their personal interests and passions, while providing memorable experiences that encourage participants to become leaders within their community.

“Our youth will sustain positive outcomes by receiving proper guidance and assistance to successfully accomplish all goals for their selected career pathways – whether it be through college, jobs, trades, graduate school, entrepreneurship, or becoming a business owner,” said Ty Ward, director and CEO of CLUBOH. “We are grateful that Cooley Dickinson believes in our mission of giving back to our community.”