Staying Involved with the Children
Growing up in the Blue Hills neighborhood, Chris Baisden remembers keeping an eye on his younger brother and his friends. If they weren't where they were supposed to be, especially school, Baisden got involved. Years later, Baisden is still in Blue Hills and still getting involved with kids. "Everything I do is involved with youth," said Baisden, 31.
For Baisden, "everything" includes working with youngsters in an after-school program, assisting in a summer youth employment program sponsored by the State Comptroller's Office, where he works in the personnel department, and supplying free tickets to city youth for women's professional basketball games at the Hartford Civic Center.
"I use as many different resources as possible," Baisden said. Baisden said that he was fortunate growing up with parental guidance and involvement. "They made me who I am. A lot of today's kids don't have that light in their life to guide them," he said. So Baisden spends two days a week trying to supply some light to about 15 youngsters enrolled in NULITES, an after-school program sponsored by the Urban League of Greater Hartford. Baisden, who organizes workshops on subjects including violence prevention and the value of education, said the after- school period is crucial, because many children are unsupervised for several hours during that time.
Sheila Mayo, whose children Michael, Tahnarra and Jahsimeon are in the program, agreed. "It's a good sanctuary for them until I get home from work," said Mayo, whose children have been attending the program at the Albany Avenue Branch of the Hartford Public Library for about two years. Mayo said she likes Baisden's positive approach and dedication to the children. "He's really in tune to what's going on," she said. "He expects a lot out of them and puts a lot into them."
Baisden, a program assistant, said he tries to stress to the children that the program is theirs. "I want to empower them to have a voice," he said. Sometimes though, Baisden acknowledges he gets frustrated by forces out of his control that affect young people.