U.S. Attorney’s Office Presents “Your Future, Your Decision” Program to more than 100 Students at Woodland Academy
BOSTON – The United States Attorney’s Office, in partnership with Worcester Public Schools, the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office and the Worcester Police Department, conducted a youth violence prevention event on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 for 110 fifth and sixth-grade students at Woodland Academy in Worcester.
The “Your Future, Your Decision” program has been presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to over 2,700 middle school students around the state, combining an emphasis on the importance of good decision-making skills with a resource fair featuring after-school and summer activities. Speakers representing the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Worcester Public Schools and Police Department told the students about the choices they made along the way that kept them on a positive path in their lives. Worcester native Jeffrey Lassey also made a powerful presentation to the young people about poor decisions that he made as a young person and the consequences he faced, including prison time. Topics that were spotlighted included involvement with gang activity, guns, drugs, bullying, and the legal and social consequences that can impact the students’ futures, particularly affecting their ability to get jobs, housing and admission to college.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said, “It’s extremely important that we get the message to middle school students that this is the time to start thinking about the decisions they make every day and how those choices can affect the rest of their lives. Many outside factors are influencing our youth, and the best possible tool for them is the resiliency to be able to step back and evaluate their options when faced with difficult decisions. That’s what we endeavor to provide with the ‘Your Future, Your Decision’ program.”
According to Woodland Academy Principal Patricia Padilla, “Woodland Academy students were very fortunate to take part in the ‘Your Future, Your Decision’ program. Having the opportunity to hear powerful messages about making positive choices, has equipped them with the strategies needed when faced with challenging situations throughout their lives.”
Following the speaker presentations, the students visited a resource fair in the school’s gymnasium offering information on after-school and summer programs. Agencies participating in the fair included the Worcester Boys & Girls Club, Clark University Basketball Camp, Friendly House Neighborhood Center, Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts, Guild of St. Agnes, Salvation Army’s Bridging the Gap Program, Worcester Public Library, Worcester YMCA and Worcester Youth Flag Football. A resource guide, developed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and produced by Worcester Public Schools, was also provided to students. The guide provides information about activities and programs in the City of Worcester.