Youth Programs

Junta puts on several youth programs, because we know that investing in our young people is investing in the future of our entire community. Children’s access to nurturing, educational spaces is a huge determinant of their success later in life, so we are committed to making sure all kids, regardless of race and income, have access to such resources.

Big Turtle Village

Big Turtle Village is a five-day free camping trip for children, ages 8-12 who do not have the economic means to attend summer camp. Run completely by volunteers and located at Devil’s Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut, the camp introduces children to the natural environment through workshops that encourage children to advocate for their health, the environment and its preservation.

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 Photo: Children and Rafael Ramos building a teepee at Big Turtle Village.

There are four main workshops during the week:

Recycling and litter control:
Children learned different recycling techniques as well as the importance of litter control.

Learning about Connecticut’s Wildlife: Children had the opportunity to observe the park’s wildlife under the supervision of the adults. Activities about the Parks’ wildlife were performed to let the children experience the worlds of animals in terms they can enjoy and understand.

Connecticut Natural Vegetation: Children observed the amazing variety of vegetation of the Park and they learned to distinguish among different species of plants and trees.

Geological formations of the Park: Children experienced the variety of geological formations in the Park through easy activities and fun games.

JUNTA’s volunteers, and its creator, Board member Rafael Ramos, have repeated the camps success for the last 10 years, offering over 60 underserved children per year the opportunity to enjoy a week of outdoors learning, socializing and fun, with nutritious food, yoga and great sense of camaraderie.

To learn more about JUNTA at “Big Turtle Village” or to become a volunteer, please contact Cheila Serrano at (203) 787-0191 or

The Neighborhood Place (TNP)

This program helps working families and has multiple benefits for at-risk children: It gives them the opportunity to share positive experiences with others and offers creative outlets to improve their social, personal and academic growth. In addition, the program provides a safe place for children in the crucial hours when they leave school but their parents are still at work and cannot return home to take care of them. The Neighborhood Place was nationally-recognized as a successful program in the Handbook of Community-Based Clinical Practice, published by Oxford University Press, 2006.

The Neighborhood Place (TNP) offers a school year program:

The after school program is offered in the fall and spring Monday through Thursday, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm.

On Thursdays the children have a lot of opportunities to participate in field trips in the outdoors, as well as wonderful historic sites such as museums.

Every month, the program provides an opportunity for parents to learn through workshops which enhance parenting skills, as well as better the home life of the program’s participants.

The TNP is a therapeutic program for children between the ages of 5 to 14, who reside in the city of New Haven. We accept 33 children, which are divided in 3 groups by age, 11 children in each group, and each group has its own counselor. We give priority to those children who are referred from therapeutic clinics such as Clifford Beers, Yale Child Study Center, and Hill Health Center.

For More Information
Please contact Agueda Ocasio, TNP Coordinator,  at

Youth in Action 

Members of Junta's Youth in Action group light candles at their vigil to commemorate victims of violence.

Members of Junta’s Youth in Action group light candles at their vigil to commemorate victims of violence.



The Youth in Action (YIA) committee is a program designed to develop the leadership potential in every individual young adult. We are a group of young adults between the ages of 13-18 striving to make powerful positive change in not only our community and state, but our entire country. YIA focuses on finding a way to positively impact problems of violence, immigration, drug abuse, race, and education, along with many other social justice issues that affect the daily lives of our members. We explore various tools of activism, including drama and visual art, as well as more traditional forms of community organizing.

In the past, the group has organized a canned food and diaper drive from local businesses, participated in a leadership training summer “boot camp,” and organized a community vigil to spread awareness on violence against youth. Members also attend rallies and conferences for political issues in New Haven, Hartford, and even Washington D.C. Members of the group earn community service hours, represent youth concerns and issues, help their community and peers, and learn to

take responsibility and initiative at a young age. Overall, we seek to inform and develop a sense of responsibility for our community within each member.

We meet twice a week and new member are always welcome! To find out more about our leadership boot camp, to become a part of the Youth in Action group, or to learn more about the program, please e-mail us at .  You can also find the Youth in Action group on Facebook and Instagram, at @junta_youth.
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