Darlene LaRose didn't know that Norwalk had been named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People, but she wasn't surprised. "I grew up here, and had a great time," she said. "I'm still friends with many of the people I met then, and a lot of them have moved back to Norwalk to start their own families. I think it's even better for kids now, with Stepping Stones, the Maritime Aquarium, the parks."
The honor was announced Tuesday by America's Promise Alliance, the nation's largest partnership providing support to young people. The group focuses on increasing graduation rates and ending the school dropout crisis.
Norwalk's schools got high marks from resident Maryse Dorleans, whose daughter is now in college. "I grew up in the islands, and went to Catholic schools," she said. "I was going to do that with my daughter, but people convinced me to send her to public school, and she got an unbelievable education." Dorleans recalled that when her daughter was young, the bus didn't stop at her after-school program. "I called City Hall and they added a stop," she said. "They'll work with you."
Heather Skuches moved to Norwalk five years ago, just before the birth of her first son. "We had lived in Waterbury, and there was nothing for kids to do there," she said. "Norwalk is so much better." She said there's no shortage of things to do, listing Calf Pasture Beach and hiking in Cranbury Park as favorite activities with Jeremy.
LaRose also cited the city's diversity as a positive for kids. "They get to see what it's like in the real world," she said. "There are kids with money, kids who don't have much, but you can be friends with all of them no matter what."
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