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Article Published January 10, 2018

When it Comes to Teens, Compassion Counts

By Eric O’Connell/

Parents, teens, and teachers who’ve ever felt frustrated when trying to communicate across the generation gap may want to keep their calendars open on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. when representatives from six communities will gathering at the Old Saybrook High School auditorium for Compassion Counts: Weathering the Adolescent Storm in a Pressure-Filled World, a free program conducted by Middletown-based Gilead Community Services.

One of the partners helping with the event is the Clinton PTA. PTA Vice President Laura Colebank said the event will be interactive, featuring skits that teens can then react to and provide their own insight.

“They know how to relate to kids,” Colebank said of Gilead Community Services.

Gilead Director of Development & Public Education Lucy McMillan said the skits will show positive and negative examples of communication, problem solving techniques, and what it means to be resilient.

“One of the goals has been to have an open and honest conversation,” McMillian said of the program, which Gilead has been offering for about three years.

A group of more than 30 providers throughout Middlesex County joined forces to create what is now called Compassion Counts, according to the Gilead website The Jan. 31 event is one of two held each year—the other will be held in Middletown—to initiate a community conversation about mental health.

With the Old Saybrook event, McMillan said the forum will be an opportunity for attendees to learn more about Gilead, as well.

“We want to spread the word about resources available,” McMillan said. “We want a wide spectrum of people there,” McMillan said of the event.

According to a press release, some of the talking points the event hopes to address include gaining an understanding of “the difference between, and impact of, positive and negative communication between teens and adults...learning how to use collaborative problem solving, understanding what it means for a teen to have grit/resilience and how, as an adult, to nurture such critical characteristics in teens.”

Additionally, through a live-panel of teens, attendees will be shown what life is like from the teens’ perspectives—academically, socially, emotionally—and what they need most from the adults in their lives.


Compassion Counts: Weathering the Adolescent Storm in a Pressure-Filled World runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31 (snow date is Tuesday, March 20) at the Old Saybrook High School auditorium, 1111 Boston Post Road. Old Saybrook. The free program is conducted by Middletown-based Gilead Community Services and moderated by Gilead CEO Don Osborne. For more information, visit