Hartford YMCA Now Home to Brother Carl Hardrick Institute

After launching virtually in 2021, The Brother Carl Hardrick Institute, a violence prevention program, is now housed inside the Y in Downtown Hartford.

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As Middletown celebrated the start of Pride Month, the City of Hartford gathered for another celebration.

Community members came together Saturday for the opening of the Brother Carl Hardrick Institute located inside the Wilson-Gray YMCA in Downtown Hartford.

A new community resource is set to open inside the capitol city on Saturday. It's named after Hartford gun violence prevention advocate Carl Hardrick and hopes to keep kids on the right track.

Brother Carl Hardrick made it his life's work to decrease violence right in his hometown and Connecticut's Capitol City as a way to protect youth against gun violence. 

The activist is known to many as Brother Carl. Others also call him a hero. 

"Always, since I was a little kid, I was struggling. I had so many struggles health-wise, family-wise," said Angel Velez, of Hartford.

Velez says his life changed after meeting Brother Carl, who inspired him to go back to school in August.

"My goal is how do we decrease violence? How do we stop the pipeline from being incarcerated and do more education," said Carl Hardrick, Founder of the Brother Carl Hardrick Institute.

The institution launched last year and aims to prevent violence in and around Hartford. They're hosting a virtual conversation this week about standing together to prevent violence.

His work, protecting and educating kids about gun violence spans decades.  

"The 70s, I was doing it. I was doing it in the 80s. I was doing it in the 90s. And all the way through the 2000s, said Hardrick.

It wasn't until last year Hardrick lost his own grandson, Makhi, to gun violence. 

"You know, he had friends on both sides, got mixed up with the wrong people, and boom. Next thing you know, he was out. So that was devastating to me so I continue with this work," said Hardrick.

He says that personal tragedy strengthened his commitment to his cause. While his program launched virtually last year, he's now saying hello to a brand-new classroom space for families, youth, and community leaders to learn how to intervene and remain active in the fight against gun violence.

"Violence prevention, it doesn't discriminate. It is a universal issue that we've all seen, am I correct? So, in order for this to stop we have to work together collectively," said program spokesperson Francine Austin.

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