WOBURN—Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone announced the kickoff of the 4th annual PSA Project, open to allMiddlesex County high school and middle students, today.
The District Attorney’s PSA Project, created in conjunction with Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc., was first initiated in 2009 in an effort to spark a positive dialogue and encourage teens to speak out about important issues affecting youth. This year’s topic focuses on the importance of promoting healthy substance free relationships. Students enrolled in high schools and middle schools in Middlesex County are asked to create and produce their own 30 to 60 second PSA on the following suggested topic subsets:
- · Supporting friends and peers who encounter peer pressure
- · Accepting peers for who they are
- · Coping with peer pressure
- · Appreciating self worth, as an anti-substance approach
- · Demonstrating sound judgment and personal responsibility
- · Avoiding over-the-counter products that pose health and safety risks
- · Avoiding situations that promote substance abuse
“Adolescence is an exciting but often challenging time, where friends and peers play important roles in shaping the decisions of young people. We know that the best communicators to youth are other youth, and our goal through this year’s project is to encourage young people to emphasize the importance of peers and friends helping each other make healthy choices, which includes helping friends avoid illegal and mind/mood-alerting substances,” District Attorney Leone said. “We understand that nearly one in five teens has already abused alcohol or marijuana, and the same demographic has abused prescription medication as well. This abusive activity coupled with the fact that the number one killer of teens is car crashes, presents a troubling dynamic. Since the PSA Project began in 2009, it has been a huge success each year. We are excited to start the 4thannual PSA Project and look forward to seeing the creative ways the students choose to communicate this important narrative.”
All submissions will be viewed by a panel of school personnel, law enforcement officials, and members of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office who will select the top five finalists. The five PSA finalists will then be shown to high school students throughout Middlesex County in classrooms and assemblies where students will cast their votes to select the winner.
The winning PSA will be professionally edited and then be submitted to local television stations for airing.
The winner of the contest will be announced the week of May 28.
DA Leone first launched the PSA Project in 2009. The first project focused on teen dating violence and the winner was created and produced by students from Somerville High School. After the first year’s success, the PSA Project continued in 2010 with a focus on teen impaired driving. The 2010 winning PSA was created and produced by a student at Lowell High School. And in 2011, two students from Lexington High School won after they submitted their PSA on cyber safety.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has a proud tradition of protecting and serving the people of Middlesex Countythrough tough, fair prosecutions and proactive, progressive prevention and intervention efforts. The mission of the Office of the Middlesex District Attorney is to protect and serve the public, fight for victims, and speak for those who otherwise would have no voice.
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 20 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 20 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.