Become a Member of the “Generation of Change”


Mia Burke

The Fairfield CARES Youth Committee reaches out to teens and the Fairfield community to promote physical and mental wellness, responsible choices, and healthy coping mechanisms.

As a high schooler have you ever:

Pushed aside your mental health to cram in some homework?

Witnessed or experienced peer pressure while hanging out with your friends?

Been overwhelmed with no idea how to cope?

Known a peer who uses drugs or suffers from an addiction?

If you said yes to any of these questions, the Fairfield CARES Youth Committee (FCYC) hears you, and aims to eliminate these all too common problems.

The Committee strives to create a healthy community of Fairfield teens. The FCYC promotes physical and mental wellness, responsible choices, and healthy coping mechanisms through community related projects, education, and prevention. 

Cathy Hazlett, the Fairfield CARES Community Coalition Coordinator, has been working in the field of youth substance prevention since 2002.

Her passion stems from her family’s history of alcoholism and heavy tobacco smoking. After her father experienced several health complications due to his nicotine addiction including “a lung collapsing several times, mini-strokes, an abdominal aneurysm, dementia, and a major heart attack,” she became determined to protect youth from falling “prey to the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics.”

Her main goal is to “engage all sectors of the community to work together to prevent youth from accessing and using alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, or any other drug.” Cathy and the entire Coalition “want all youth to thrive,” and to “find and follow their inner passions so that drug use is the furthest thing from their minds.”

Hazlett loves to see “youth step up to leadership roles, take initiative, and work together to be positive role models for their peers and younger youth.”

Livy Shah, a junior at FLHS and the Fairfield CARES Prevention Intern, explained that she became an intern because of her previous “positive experience as a member” of the committee. 

She loves “getting to see the group’s hard work pay off,” and reflected upon how “everyone was so grateful” when she dropped off the committee’s item collection during its holiday drive to the Operation Hope kitchen, consisting of 400 napkins, 120 cups, 16 rolls of paper towels, and many more essential supplies. It reminds her that despite only being a teenager, she “can still make an impact on someone else’s life, even if it is small.”

In order to prevent youth substance use, the FCYC hopes to see a flavored tobacco ban passed.  FCYC conducted a survey for teens about teen vaping via Instagram to acquire data about how flavored pods increase teen vaping. The survey consisted of several questions pertaining to the accessibility of vape products, the most common brands and types, the motives for teenage vaping, and many other related questions.  The availability of flavors was the main reason given as to why teens vape.  Survey respondents also reported that teens vape because their friends vape, and because it helps with stress.  This data will be very helpful in passing a flavored tobacco ban in CT.

The group also met with Karen Wackerman, RTM for District 7, to learn about how an ordinance is passed.

To encourage healthy coping mechanisms, another of the coalition’s objectives, the members of FCYC created a video about common myths surrounding drugs, and why teens should choose drug abstinence which was shown to eighth graders in their health classes.

Another promotion of healthy coping mechanisms was the Calm for the Community wellness fair hosted on the Sherman Green on May 12. Several stations were set up showcasing different strategies to handle stress.

To easily provide resources and stop the stigma surrounding mental health, members put up these flyers around FLHS, which you may have seen before. The flyers are a part of Project Bathroom Stall, providing mental health resources in an accessible place.

The Calm for the Community Event highlighted coping mechanisms that teens can use to reduce stress.
This initiative from the FCYC provides mental health resources in an accessible place. (Kayleigh Johnson)

Samantha Tison, a freshman at FLHS, perfectly explained that being a member of the committee is “important to not only the town as a whole, but all of the individuals who struggle with the problems we address.”

The committee offers many different opportunities and allows you to choose which projects to participate in based on your interests.

Mia Burke, a youth representative of the committee, used her artistic abilities to create the group’s logo, and designed the committee’s T-Shirts worn at the wellness fair. 

Despite all that has been accomplished so far this year, the Committee is not slowing down. There are several projects in the works including radio PSAs, a collaboration with the Gifted Program at Riverfield Elementary School, and a presentation for the Fairfield CARES Coalition Youth Advisory Board. 

Caroline Shah, a Ludlowe freshman, explains that she loves FCYC because “it is such a kind group where everyone can be heard” and “your individuality shines bright.” Emily Wallace, another FLHS freshman, agrees it is a “safe environment” where she “doesn’t feel judged when providing ideas to the group.”

If the committee’s goals align with yours, you can apply today

Also check out the committee’s Instagram page, @fc_youth_committee, for more information!