Communal Caring with DanversCARES

A town-wide partnership whose mission is to help youth and families make healthy decisions.

(Article appears on page 90 of September 2018 issue of magazine)

What does it take to get the superintendent of schools, a representative of the police department, a selectman, a member of the clergy, high school students, and over 20 other community leaders together each month? In Danvers, the answer is DanversCARES, a town-wide partnership whose mission is to help youth and families make healthy decisions.

DanversCARES started in the mid 1990s as a school-based health advisory committee with the vision to invite community partners to the table to support school-based health and physical education efforts.

About 10 years ago, the group evolved into a formal community-based partnership led by former program director Peg Sallade. The group, which now includes acting director (formerly the assistant director) Lyle Harrod, adheres to the philosophy that partnerships are built on community involvement and designed to address local needs. This is done through collaborative dialogue, prioritizing concerns, and seeking partners and resources to support the work.

And boy has this group been working! Using data collected by regular surveys, DanversCARES has tackled issues including access to alcohol and prescription medication by teens, a mentor program run by Danvers High School upperclassmen athletes for incoming freshmen athletes, internet safety, and opioid prevention.

“The value of the partnership model is that we can really get a pulse on what is happening in the community in order to take the appropriate measures to address [it],” says Sallade. “Having spent my career in public health and prevention, I have been pleased to work in a community where so many people from so many different parts of the town come together to make a difference.”

Danvers supports youth and families in many ways: a good school system, opportunities for community service, quality recreation programming and facilities, effective social services, and more. “All of these help make Danvers a healthy, vibrant community,” says Steve Bartha, town manager. “However, we can’t pretend that Danvers is perfect. We have many of the same issues facing communities across the Commonwealth and around the country. DanversCARES helps us to identify and respond to those issues.”

Read entire article: