Dr. David Torchiana welcomed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Reverend Liz Walker and almost 300 others to a luncheon celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King late last week. The event brought together community leaders from the Boston Police Department, community health centers, hospitals, universities and other community groups to discuss strategies that can begin to address violence and lead to healthier lives for Boston’s young people.

Dr. Torchiana began by talking about the important role that hospitals must play in reducing disparities in health care – including developing strategies that address violence and trauma in the communities that hospitals serve. He then turned the program over to Mayor Walsh, who described many efforts underway to empower and enable young people in our communities, including a White House initiative called My Brother’s Keeper. The Mayor credited My Brother’s Keeper and other strategies for recent signs that violent crime, including murder, is dropping in Boston but stressed that much more needed to be done. The Mayor quoted Boston Police Commissioner Evans and said “just one death is too many."

“Young kids don’t need saviors. They simply need some believers.”

Reverend Liz Walker then facilitated a panel discussion highlighting three community leaders working together to make even more headway on violence. Conan Harris from the Boston Office of Public Safety Initiatives, Captain Haseeb Hosein from the Boston Police Department and Thea James, MD from Boston Medical Center discussed the many ways that they are working with one another and various community groups to reduce violence and support the victims and families of violence when it does occur.

The panel pointed out that Boston has significantly fewer gun-related fatalities than cities of similar size including Baltimore, St. Louis and Atlanta. One reason for Boston’s low number of gunshot related fatalities – the number of top-flight trauma centers in the city. The panelists emphasized the role that collaborations play and cited academia, churches and government as all having an important role to play in addressing violence.

The panel agreed that exposing kids to opportunity outside of their neighborhoods is key. Harris of the city’s Public Safety office thanked Partners for its commitment to summer job initiatives, which achieve this objective by exposing kids to careers in health care and the sciences.

“Young kids don’t need saviors,” said Harris. “They simply need some believers.”

Topics: Community Partnerships, Scholarship, Diversity and Inclusion

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