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DA Leone, Team IMPACT launch collaboration for kids

Posted by Liam O'Kennedy  September 18, 2012 10:00 AM

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The following was submitted by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office:

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and non-profit organization Team IMPACT have established a collaboration to benefit kids facing life-threatening illnesses, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone announced today.

Team IMPACT is a 501(c) 3 non-profit chartered to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses. Core to their model is harnessing the compassion and the camaraderie of college athletic teams.  Team IMPACT pairs these children with college athletic teams in order to provide the child with an expanded team-based support system for the duration of their treatment and beyond.  The collaboration, which is sponsored by the MDAO and its private non-profit partner, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc. in collaboration with Team IMPACT, will utilize the MDAO’s existing Middlesex College Consortium to gauge and promote Middlesex Colleges and Universities interest in participating in Team IMPACT’s program.  

“By utilizing our already existing network of colleges and universities in a creative manner and, in the future, exploring Team IMPACT’s ability to expand its mission to include the types of adverse challenges we see facing children each and every day, this collaboration is fulfilling a real need in providing these young people with a positive outlet and external support system,” District Attorney Leone said.  “By focusing on prevention through partnerships like these, we hope to make a positive and lasting impact on young people so that they can make constructive and healthy decisions for their future.” 

“We're thrilled with this relationship and to have the support that will allow us to further expand our reach.  Initially, this collaboration will boost our family and athletic outreach efforts across Middlesex County communities and the 26 colleges within them.  In the future,  we envision the MDAO playing a more integral role as, over time, we expand our mission to provide support networks for a broader population of children facing a wider range of adverse issues and events," said Dan Walsh, Executive Director of Team IMPACT.

The Middlesex College Consortium, established in 2007, created bi-annual meetings with Middlesex County college and university safety officials to focus on the unique safety and security issues on their campuses.  Representatives from schools’ administrations, as well as heads of campus safety and security staffs, come together through the consortium to partner with the DA’s office on prevention efforts aimed at keeping campuses safe.

In future phases, Team IMPACT plans to broaden its mission and the population of children they serve.  As Team IMPACT grows and their mission expands, the MDAO and its non-profit partner MPY will work to identify youth who would most benefit from involvement with the non-profit’s model of using the power of teamwork to improve the lives of youth facing adversity. The collaboration will eventually include establishing a referral process in which children facing adversity, such as child survivors of crime, children whose family members have been victimized, and at-risk youth, are also partnered with local athletes.   In return, the athletes participating in the program are presented with a life-changing opportunity to create a positive experience for a youth facing incredible life challenges. 

District Attorney Gerry Leone was elected in November of 2006 and took office in January 2007. Within four years, he implemented a number of new initiatives designed to better protect and serve the people of Middlesex County. In 2007, Leone created a new Domestic Violence Unit, now called the Domestic Violence Program, to more effectively prevent and prosecute instances of domestic violence as well as better serve its victims. To further that service, Leone also created a domestic violence pro bono program in partnership with area law firms to provide victims of domestic violence free legal assistance during the restraining order process.  Leone also established the office’s first Cyber Protection Program in 2007, forming a team of prosecutors and investigators specifically focused on the protection of children and other citizens from the predatory dangers of the Internet.  

A career prosecutor with a record of implementing innovative school safety programs, Leone has also launched an initiative to more comprehensively expand those prevention and intervention efforts into the middle schools, and to the 26 colleges and universities of Middlesex County.

Additionally, Leone launched a comprehensive plan aimed at combating Shaken Baby Syndrome in which he partnered with service agencies and Middlesex County hospitals.  The program aims to have all new parents undergo individual training sessions by hospital nurses on strategies to prevent SBS.  Since its launch at Winchester Hospital in March 2008, eight more hospitals have joined the program.  

Leone also created a workplace violence prevention training program which aims to train safety, security, legal, and human resources personnel on how to minimize the risk of a violent incident occurring in workplaces, including private companies, schools, public governmental agencies, and others.   

Lastly, Leone is also the Chair of Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc. (MPY), a non-profit organization which provides prevention and intervention resources and training to Middlesex school districts and communities. Today, in collaboration with the District Attorney's Office, over 60 Middlesex school districts are committed to examining the pressing social, legal, and health-related issues and solutions that face schools and communities. Through the current and future activities of MPY, educators, parents, and students can regularly engage in collaborative trainings with law enforcement, social services, and community-based organizations as well as share the latest information and resources. Such interactions provide the foundation for creating solution-oriented, community-based, multi-disciplinary approaches to addressing youth violence, substance abuse, child abuse and neglect, hate crimes, and harassment across Middlesex County.

Middlesex County is the largest county in Massachusetts and one of the largest counties in the country with 54 towns and cities and 26 colleges in urban, suburban, and rural areas, comprising over one quarter of the population of Massachusetts.  The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has offices throughout the county, including communities such as Ayer, Cambridge, Concord, Framingham, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Natick, Newton, Somerville, Waltham and Woburn.

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