Letter: DA's Decision on Prevention Programs Hurts Children & Families

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To the Editor:

For 15 years,the Community Outreach and Education Department (COE) in the Berkshire District Attorney's Office has provided student-based, educational and prevention programming to elementary, middle and high school students throughout Berkshire County. Tens of thousands of students have received vital educational programming and support on bullying, online safety, safe and healthy relationships, substance abuse and leadership.

These grant-funded programs required data collection and the Berkshire results continually showed positive outcomes for our students. Alongside student programming, staff and parents have received the training and guidance they need to support youth as they navigate the years where decisions about such important topics are made. Peer Leadership & LifeSkills programs, presented throughout the schools in our county, provide evidence-based, research-driven curriculums that give students the tools needed to mentor and support each other and make positive choices during these important formative years.

All of this student, staff and parent training and support is provided to our schools at no cost to our community and the district attorney's office and COE department has been recognized as a model for other offices across the state.

Sadly, District Attorney Harrington has made the recent decision to eliminate this important educational and prevention programming and we as a community should be asking why.

The people of this county voted for change but this decision is not moving forward toward positive change. COE has been a vital partner collaborating with youth service providers and other organizations who fight to support children and families. This is a huge loss to our schools and our community as a whole and I urge any student, parent or educator who has benefited from these programs to reach out to DA Harrington to voice your concern about her decision to eliminate this programming, as our youth will definitely suffer this loss.

Kristen Westerman Kanter
Great Barrington, Mass. 

Kanter is a former employee of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office.




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CATA Breaks Ground for New Art Center & Headquarters

The 6,400 square foot center is designed by Clark & Green Architects. It's expected to take about a year to renovate the structure. 
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Community Access for the Arts broke ground on Wednesday morning for a new art center at 420 Stockbridge Road.
The center will be a permanent home for CATA and allow the organization to expand its innovative arts programs for people with disabilities.
The two-story, 6,400-square-foot facility will double the organization's existing studio space, with two studios — one for visual arts and writing, the other for dance and performing arts. CATA's new arts center will also embody the principles of Universal Design, making the facility accessible to every person. For the first time, the building will bring the organization's studios and offices under the same roof.
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli attended the groundbreaking ceremony with state Sen. Adam Hinds. They both served as honorary co-chairs of CATA's Capital Campaign Steering Committee and provided the event's opening remarks.
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