The following was submitted by Peter Kirchof, a board member of A Better Chance (ABC) of Wilton.

At A Better Chance of Wilton, the mission is to teach our Wilton Scholars to “fish” in today’s complex world by acquiring a better education and the work ethic to support it. But beyond the amazing education that the scholars receive while living in Wilton, it was noted by John Klein, president of ABC, that the kids needed to learn basic life skills to succeed in college and life.

“The goal of the program was to teach the scholars the same fundamentals, we teach our children in our homes before they depart Wilton for college,” Klein said.

Editor’s Note:  GOOD Morning Wilton wrote about the ABC Life Skills Program in December.

The tricky part: the content of Life Skills subjects can be dry and less than entertaining than, let’s say, American Idol or Facebook. Topics like nutrition, personal banking and finance, self-defense, stress management, and leadership are critical subjects that teens should grasp before heading out to the “real” world. Each topic was organized into an interactive workshop setting and delivered by subject matter experts that just happen to be Wilton residents.

“The program’s success is 100 percent attributable to the amazing capabilities of the each of the workshop leaders and their kindness to volunteer their time and talents,” Klein said about the community participation.

Many times, the scholars were so enthralled with the workshop that they immediately requested potentially adding more sessions on the topic. One favorite was Robert Olmedo’s self-defense class and he was happy to consider it.

“These kids are nothing short of amazing! Very respectful, humble, thoughtful and in my view, some of the best examples of leaders in Wilton. Myself, and my entire team, will be involved in the Life Skill’s program every year we are asked to participate,” Olmedo said.

The ABC program would like to recognize each of the workshop volunteers and formerly thank them for the thoughtfulness and energy they brought to the workshop sessions.

Nutrition: Loryn Galardi, Comprehensive Nutrition
Finding “Your” Way With Faith:  Rev. Arnold Thomas, Wilton Congregational
Banking 101 – Personal Finance:  Ann Arthur, Patriot Bank
Time Management/Managing Stress/Life Events:  Ellen Byrne
Personal Accountability:  Keith and Mary Shoemaker
Social Media (the Good, the Bad, the Ugly):  Mike LeBeau, Weld Media
Personal Safety and Self Defense:  Robert Olmedo, Olmedo Self Defense and Staff
Swimming:  Sarah Hagan and Ed Danielsen, The Wilton Y Staff
Leadership and Taking the Hill:  Chris Stroup, WiltonRe; and Sam Srivastava, Magellan HealthCare
College and Beyond:  Casey Pearsall, Notre Dame; Sean Carroll, Middlebury; Ella Bartlett, American University

ABC of Wilton also wants to thank food volunteers including the Village Market, Wilton Pizza, and Marley’s.

The Life Skills program will continue to evolve and improve with varied content added and subtracted each year. If you are interested in participating or you have any ideas regarding workshops, please contact the board via the Lifeskills link on the ABC of Wilton Website. The ABC program is Wilton’s program:  staffed and supported as a non-profit and funded 100 percent by you and your Wilton neighbors.

Founded in 1996, ABC of Wilton provides deserving students with ‘a better chance’ by offering the opportunity to attend Wilton High School, to encourage academic excellence, improve their college acceptance chances and lay the foundation for an improved future – for our scholars, our community and our country. Over the years, 100 percent of ABC seniors have been accepted to college. This year was no exception, with JR Bonhomme, attending American University; Raphael Mettle attending Middlebury College; and JP Clarke attending Notre Dame University this coming fall. These outstanding scholars are proof positive of the program’s ongoing success.

There are a myriad of volunteers in the Wilton community who guide and support the eight boys and six girls successfully through their high school years here in Wilton and on into college. ABC is indebted to the Wilton High School faculty, the Guidance Office team, and the Board of Education for their commitment to the program, and especially for all of the efforts of Linda Lyall, assistant principal. In addition to these important contributors, nearly one hundred and fifty volunteers serve the program as host families, college coaches, school mentors, tutors, counselors and drivers — all critical components that keep the program running smoothly and thriving. A big thanks to all the volenteers on another terrific year.

Visit the ABC of Wilton website to find out more about the organization.