Accreditation for Norwalk Health Department; info for parents; Aquarium seeks volunteers

Diamondback terrapins. (Maritime Aquarium)

NORWALK, Conn. – Some Norwalk announcements for you:

  • Norwalk Health Department retains accreditation
  • Norwalk ACTS offers ‘Out of School Time Program Locator’
  • Maritime Aquarium seeks volunteers for turtle project

Health Department recognized

The Norwalk Health Department will keep its accreditation status from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) for five more years, according to a news release.

PHAB, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets rigorous standards for U.S. governmental health departments.  In 2014 Norwalk Health Department, which is guided by a six-member Board of Health, was the first Connecticut health department to be accredited.

“We applaud the Norwalk Health Department for demonstrating its increasing effectiveness in improving the health of everyone in Norwalk,” said PHAB Board Chair Joe Finkbonner. “By maintaining their accreditation through PHAB, people living and working in Norwalk can rest assured that the Norwalk Health Department is strong, has been carefully examined, and has the capacity to protect and promote the health of everyone in the community.”

“I am grateful for the amazing team of professionals at the Norwalk Health Department who continuously strive to meet the needs of our diverse community,” said Norwalk Health Director Deanna D’Amore. “This achievement is because of their hard work and dedication. I am also thankful to our Board of Health for their commitment and support to accreditation and to Mayor Rilling for his leadership and for ensuring we have the resources necessary to have a high performing health department.”

“I am proud that the Norwalk Health Department has achieved recognition for maintaining our accreditation by meeting national standards as a high-performing public health department,” said Mayor Harry Rilling.  “In 2014, Norwalk became the first health department in Connecticut to achieve this distinction, and during the pandemic, the Department proved its excellence, often leading the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. The efforts of the Department mitigated the impact of the pandemic on our City and saved countless lives, demonstrating its ongoing commitment to the health and safety of our community.”

The Norwalk Health Department website is at www.norwalkhealth.com.

The PHAB site is at www.phaboard.org.


A program locator

More than 40 Norwalk after school programs are described in detail on the new Out Of School Time Program Locator devised by youth advocacy nonprofit Norwalk ACTS, according to a news release.  Each program has its own profile page, and users can search by age, price, type, time, and days.  The Locator works on either desktop or mobile, and comes in either English, Spanish, or Creole-Haitian.  Access it at Workbook: OST Portal 2 (strivetogether.org).

Info will be continually added and updated, and program providers not currently represented are invited to submit their specifics for inclusion.

“We designed the program locator to ensure that all Norwalk young people are connected to year-round meaningful out-of-school experiences,” Norwalk ACTS CEO Jennifer Barahona said.   “We hope this resource helps make it easier to connect families to program providers.”

“We want the program locator to be as simple and easy to use as possible, so we held multiple design feedback sessions with parents and community providers” said Norwalk ACTS Data Analyst Ray Leslie.

“The feedback shared, coming directly from community members, was invaluable to the design process.”

“It can be so overwhelming for parents to learn about programs available for their children. I always searched for programs on my own or asked other parents for ideas because there was never one complete list or place to look to. The Out of School Time Program Locator is going to be a game-changer for parents” said Doreen Anderson, a Norwalk Parent and Norwalk ACTS Community Advocate.

“Norwalk is fortunate to have many wonderful opportunities to support children outside of school hours. We are happy this coordinated resource is available to all families in Norwalk” said Superintendent of Norwalk Public Schools Alexandra Estrella.

“The after school and summer programs in Norwalk are top-notch and allow for critical childhood development that children need out of the classroom. I look forward to the City’s partnership with

Norwalk ACTS and connecting families with the opportunity to experience the excellent out-of-school programs Norwalk has to offer” said Mayor Harry Rilling.

Norwalk ACTS describes itself as a partnership of over 200 civic leaders, educators, organizations, and individuals dedicated to the all-around “cradle to career” development of the city’s youth.  Their site is at Home – Norwalk ACTS.

Diamondback terrapins. (Maritime Aquarium)

Help needed for ‘unfortunate task’

Volunteers are sought for the Maritime Aquarium’s “Terrapin Tracker” program, which aims to gain new info about where Connecticut’s shrinking population of diamondback terrapins lives.

The program’s strategy for locating diamondback population strongholds is to check coastal roadways for mortalities that befell female turtles crossing the road in search of nesting areas.  Volunteers will be assigned a coastal roadway to monitor once weekly April through August.

“It’s an unfortunate task but it’s a simple, helpful way for researchers to understand where strong diamondback terrapin population densities occur, and thus where to target efforts to help protect their numbers,” Aquarium Senior Education Manager Bridget Cervero said in a news release. “By collecting data on road mortalities, volunteers will be helping to potentially reduce the incidents in the future.”

Named for the diamond-shaped pattern on their top shell, diamondback terrapins were listed as a “species of special concern” in 2015 under Connecticut’s Endangered Species Act.  With females measuring nine inches and males at five inches, they are the only turtle on the U.S. Atlantic coast that lives in salt marshes and tidal creeks.  Diamondback terrapins are on display at the Maritime Aquarium, near the river otters.

The “Terrapin Tracker” program represents a collaboration amongst the aquarium, the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Connecticut Department of Transportation, and Western Connecticut State University.  DEEP wildlife biologist Brian Hess sees the program’s data as the possible basis for construction of larger road culverts enabling safe terrapin movement, addition of terrapin barriers, and strategically placed “Caution: Turtle Crossing” road signs.

Volunteers can sign up for either of two virtual training sessions from 7 until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday Mar. 23 or Tuesday March 30, at www.maritimeaquarium.org/ community-science.  You must be at least 18 years old, and a suggested donation will be requested.   Children can accompany a trained monitor.


One response to “Accreditation for Norwalk Health Department; info for parents; Aquarium seeks volunteers”

  1. Fran Di Meglio

    Thank you Deanna D’Amore and Team; Norwalk is fortunate to have you!

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