“I think one thing that’s cool is that I have nonlinear path,” Ben Eaves says.
From growing up in the U.K. and coming to the U.S. to play college basketball to five years spent playing professionally oversees, “nonlinear” is certainly one way to describe how Ben landed in Clinton as the new prevention coordinator.
As prevention coordinator, Ben says he works to “facilitate a safe well-being and environment for the community” as well as “empower the youth in the community.”
Ben officially started in his new role in July after doing a similar position in the Haddam-Killingworth school district.
“It’s something I thought would be a wonderful move and a good opportunity to jump into with two feet,” Ben says of the of the opportunity that attracted him to Clinton. Ben credits former prevention coordinator Kelley Edwards, who left the role earlier in 2022 for a position with the state, with being helpful as he learns the role.
“Kelley has been great lending a hand when I need one to make sure it’s a smooth transition,” says Ben.
Since it’s the summer and schools aren’t in session yet, Ben says he’s been working on different summer camps and initiatives while planning for the fall events during the school year.
“Really I’ve been working on getting communications out about substance use and underage drinking,” says Ben.
In his role, Ben helps run youth groups in town aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles among the school population.
“I’m looking to get fall events up and running and get ready for the school year,” he adds.
One upcoming event Ben says he’s busy working on is the annual haunted hallways event, which he says is always a big hit. During the event, the hallways of The Morgan School come alive with festive Halloween decoration and costumed kids. The event raises money and collects food for the social services department.
“It’s a big recruiter for us and a thing we all really look forward to,” says Ben.
Another event Ben is helping plan for is a Wednesday, Sept. 21 community-wide discussion on suicide prevention. The event is the first of a new program called Clinton Community Conversations. Ben says more details about the event will be available as the date gets closer.
Ben acknowledges working in prevention means being constantly surrounded by an evolving landscape and sometimes tragic circumstances.
“At the moment we’re seeing a moving target,” Ben says, noting that situations are always changing and it can be hard to keep up with what the next threat he has to be concerned with is. “In this space you do hear horror stories.”
For Ben, encouraging youth to make smart decisions is something he’s been passionate about for several years. Ben grew up in the U.K. and came to the United States, attending Worcester Academy in Massachusetts before signing as a forward to play college basketball at UConn. He transferred to the University of Rhode Island (URI) after his freshman season with the Huskies, and it was at URI that Ben first involved in activism.
“I’ve been involved in prevention advocacy since I went to URI. I really felt I could get involved on campus or the surroundings communities,” Ben says.
Following graduation from URI, Ben began a five-year professional basketball career oversees that took him from Cyprus to the U.K., but that still didn’t slow him down when it came to advocacy work – something he says he kept up in the offseason.
In fact, Ben says, he believes his time playing basketball both at the collegiate and professional level helps when it comes to his prevention coordinator duties.
“Communication, teamwork, thinking on your feet, being comfortable when things get uncomfortable; I think these are all things that lend themselves to this job, and I think there’s definitely elements from both that help,” Ben says while adding that his non-traditional route to the position also helps him relate to others.
Asked his favorite part of his job so far Ben says that it’s “definitely meeting the new people. Being in a position where you have support and work with people who support you is amazing.”
Ben lives in Groton, and in his spare time can be found mountain biking, hiking, listening to music, and enjoying the outdoors. Of course, he still makes a little time for hoops.
“I do still play when I can but I’m more on my mountain bike,” Ben says with a laugh.
Though he’s only been in Clinton a matter of weeks, Ben has an appreciation for the people he’s met.
“I’ve met a ton of people who are invested in their community. That’s been the coolest thing so far,” he says.