How Do Events Create Community?
On October 19th, Solar Youth transformed what would otherwise have been a regular 1/2 school-day into a fun neighborhood event with our 2nd annual Community Fall Festival in West Rock. The field next to Katherine Brennan School was a perfect spot to spread out with a variety of activities and stations including a bouncy house, a crafts table, a science table, dancing, drumming, Pick-a-Pumpkin game, free books and winter gear, food and refreshments and even a mobile vaccine clinic!
We are thrilled that a number of wonderful community partner organizations joined us to create a really special afternoon for local children and families:
- Common Ground High School
- Gather New Haven
- Griffin Health
- New Haven Job Corps
- Volunteers from Squash Haven and neighborhood families
It's always satisfying to see smiling faces, lots of children participating, and multi-generations of people gathering to spend time together. While the implentation of a day like this - the planning, the set-up, the hosting, the clean-up - takes quite an effort, seeing how families respond is a great reminder of WHY we do it.
As an organization that is located IN the neighborhoods we serve, Solar Youth has always fostered long-term relationships with youth and families and has aimed to contribute to the social fabric and safety of the community of which we are a part. The notion of going beyond regular after-school and summer programs to bring special events to the community experience fits with this ideal. So, what role to community events play in community?
Foster Inspiration - When people spend time with their community, they're sure to learn something new. Community events inspire others to be creative and invest in their passions and ideas, and create opportunities for people to make new connections with others. Bring ing people together is part of what makes a community thrive.
Build socal skills - Sometimes being social can be easier said than done. Many people experience forms of social anxiety that make it challenging to communicate with others. However, sometimes taking the extra push to be social can help a great deal. Community events can help people build new relationships with others and improve how we communicate and interact.
Contribute to well-being - Events can provide people with a sense of place and belonging. Indeed, findings have shown that spending time with family, friends and others in your community can help build healthy relationship and enhance mental well-being. As many of us have been affected by social distancing practices, i'ts clear that human interaction is important! Interacting with others and having fun together are great ways to combat mental health struggles and improve happiness.
Finally, with each community event we learn new things and the experience to make it even greater impact in the future. We looki forward to doing it again next year!