Solar Youth Reaches For Stars

Caitlin Emma PhotoLeslie Blatteau peered at Venus through the telescope, simultaneously checking out the solar system and keeping New Haven’s Solar Youth in business.

Blatteau (pictured) joined the crowd at a benefit auction and party Thursday night at Yale’s Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium for Solar Youth, an organization that runs environmental programs for teens and younger children in New Haven neighborhoods. (Click here to read about the trail they made linking Westville Manor with West Rock Park and here to read about a discovery they once made in the woods.)

Blatteau works as a teacher at Metropolitan Business Academy. She said Solar Youth has touched some of her students. “A lot of kids find their strength through this program,” she said.

Solar Youth has affected about 4,000 kids since Joanne Sciulli (at left in photo) founded the organization in 2000. Sciulli called holding a fundraiser with cocktails and an auction a departure from the group’s day-to-day work.

“There’s just so much more we could be doing,” she said. “We want to grow—we just need the resources.”

The benefit cost $50 a ticket, $225 for a group of six. Over 100 people RSVP’ed. The benefit also featured a silent and live auction.

All the money will go directly to programming and resources, said Kieran Coleman, who served as chair of the benefit. Solar Youth involves kids in a wide variety of environmentally-conscious activities, like planting trees or cleaning up parks.

Yvette Emery (at right in photo) said her son, daughter and granddaughter all participate in the program.

“This program has saved the lives of so many inner city kids,” Emery said. “It keeps them busy and it turns them into hard-working, responsible adults.”

“I just think this is one of the best youth-oriented groups in New Haven,” said Kate Walton (at left in photo), who happened to be wearing the same jacket as her friend, Lynn Smith of START Bank (at right).

“Joanne is a phenomenon,” Smith said.

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