As part of its mission to be a strong community partner and make a difference in the Wilton community, Bankwell recently donated $10,000 to the Wilton Youth Council to help launch the Wilton Warrior Council.

The Wilton Warrior Council provides Wilton High School students with a clear path and the support they need to choose substance-free living and healthy alternatives. The program also provides students with an opportunity to build leadership skills through planning educational forums. Membership is currently open to Wilton teens who want to build confidence in choosing substance-free activities and meet other like-minded students.

The Wilton Warrior Council was formed this fall when Wilton Youth Council president Vanessa Elias and school and town officials joined forces with New Canaan-based substance abuse counselor/prevention specialist Joyce Sixsmith, who has built a strong substance-free high school student following in neighboring towns.

When this alliance of community leaders was seeking funding for the Wilton Warrior Council program, Bankwell CEO Chris Gruseke, recognized the importance of the initiative. Gruseke has been a longtime supporter of the similar program Sixsmith has built in New Canaan, the substance-free Rams Council Foundation, with a membership of more than 100 teens. Sixsmith has been hired by the Wilton Youth Council as a consultant to the new Wilton Warrior Council, and licensed clinical social worker Alexa Lee serves as the program leader for the group.

“The Wilton Warrior Council provides high school students with important tools for a safe, healthy, substance free lifestyle, and this initiative is more important than ever in view of the current opioid crisis. We are fortunate to have a team of students, parents and community leaders who stand behind our teenagers’ choice to make substance free living a priority,” notes Gruseke.

The Warrior Council meets monthly for dinner (donated by parents) at Wilton High School to discuss and develop projects, including student-moderated educational and community forums on substance abuse prevention/healthy decision making for teens, and community service. The group will host monthly substance free activities, including laser tag, beach nights, a pool party, movie nights, bowling, luncheons, dinners and more. There is also an active parent component, where parents can volunteer alongside student members at events and fundraisers. Interested parents are encouraged to become a part of this exciting movement to support Wilton teens in healthy decision-making.

For more information about membership, contact program leader Lee at 203.215.0253 or via email.

Bankwell is a community bank that provides banking and lending services to residents and businesses throughout Connecticut.  Bankwell is known for its high level of personal service and its role as an actively engaged community partner. More about Bankwell can be found online.

pictured above:   (L-R) Substance Abuse counselor/ prevention specialist Joyce Sixsmith, Bankwell VP and Wilton branch manager Ann Mitrione, Wilton Youth Council president Vanessa Elias and Wilton Warrior Council program leader Alexa Lee