Q&A: ‘Raising Athletes for Life’ Panel To Be Held Thursday at New Canaan Library


New Canaan CARES and the New Canaan Athletic Foundation are presenting a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday at New Canaan Library, featuring standout local athletes talking about creating a healthy sports culture here. Panelists include Dave Inman (played for the New York Rangers), Heather Knight Pech (multi-time division winner of the Boston Marathon among many others), Kendall Patten (Cornell University senior soccer player and NCHS graduate) and Andy Towers (distinguished lacrosse coach and player).

We put some questions about the talk to New Canaan CARES Executive Director Judy Phillips. Here’s our exchange.


New Canaanite: Give us some background on Thursday’s panel discussion at the library. How did this talk come together?

Judy Phillips: CARES has been exploring and examining ways to address sports and our fall parent focus group highlighted a healthy sports culture as a topic on the minds of many parents. We then reached out to various key individuals and organizations in the New Canaan athletic community, including the Athletic Foundation and inCourage to provide a meaningful program. 

In what way or ways is this topic in line with the New Canaan CARES mission?

Part of the CARES mission is to provide responsive educational programs that support and strengthen parenting skills, positive youth development and healthy lifestyles. Raising Athletes for Life will help provide parents with the tools they need to define what is healthy for their families and how they work together to achieve it. The panel of New Canaan parents, athletes and coaches, moderated by Garland Allen, bring diverse perspectives and experiences but all agreed to participate because they believe this conversation is vital to the health and well-being of our student-athletes.

The event listing refers to creating a “healthy sports culture” here. What are some areas of the youth sports culture that could be improved in New Canaan?

One small change that can make a huge difference is looking at how we define success. Success may differ for each family, but emphasizing enjoying the sport, building relationships, creating healthy habits and understanding it is a process will help lead to positive outcomes. We hope your readers will join us Thursday at 7 pm at the Library to dive further into this discussion.

We hear a lot about the need to address increasingly prevalent and serious mental health issues among young people, such as anxiety and depression. What would you say to New Canaan residents and families seeking help and information?

New Canaan CARES provides a variety of resources on our website for all ages and stages, www.newcanaancares.org. If the situation is urgent, please call the New Canaan Urgent Assessment Program for an assessment (866) 542 4455. If the individual is in imminent danger or needs to be seen in less than 48 hours, you should go to a hospital emergency room or urgent care center that can see you immediately. 

What else would you say to someone who is thinking about attending Thursday’s free panel, but is on the fence about it?

Garland Allen is a highly regarded expert on youth sports, and having him lead this discussion is special. The other panelists have valuable insights into youth, college, and professional sports and direct ties to our community. Having everyone all together in the brand-new Bartlett Auditorium at New Canaan Library is a unique opportunity that you don’t want to miss.

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