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Stronger Together: The Newton Partnership Unites the Community to Support Children and Families

By David Boegaard

Even in places where everyone seems to be doing well, many children need extra support in order to flourish. The Newton Partnership brings together the Newton community to provide free activities supporting the physical and mental growth of children and families. From enhancing fitness opportunities for youth in out of school time settings to providing mentors to hosting a variety of activities, The Newton Partnership opens wide the doors of possibility.

The Newton Partnership is a community organization working to organize and coordinate activities for all the children of Newton. Drawing together the resources of a wide network of community organizations, The Partnership is forged upon the idea that the collective action of a variety of charities and public institutions is more effective than that of one.

While The Partnership organizes activities from ping pong to the annual Touch-a-Truck festival, they focus primarily on activities that support the development of healthy habits for mental and physical fitness. Director Kathy Marchi emphasizes that they focus on the children who lack easy access to such support, working to help "those adolescents who are most at risk for a lack of fitness and/or nutrition."

For Marchi, fitness is an imperative for children, and schools offer a perfect opportunity to address many of the health problems facing people today. "Our nation is dealing with many public health crises, from obesity to mental health. The first steps to addressing problems like those are education and prevention." That commitment earned The Newton Partnership a Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The Partnership is using the funds to enhance physical education and implement exciting new programs after school and during vacation times.

One special program the Partnership created is the mentoring program, which aims to change lives by partnering kids up with mentors who demonstrate the value of fitness and participate in activities with the kids. "The ultimate goal is for mentees to be exposed to new experiences, and to gain a lifelong appreciation for physical activity and fitness, all under the watch of a caring and trusted adult." Marchi says. "Our matches go to batting cages, play laser tag, hike on trails around Boston, and so much more."

And The Newton Partnership's activities aren't just limited to physical fitness. For the last six years, The Partnership has organized the Touch-a-Truck event, where trucks and machinery of all kinds are assembled. Kids (and parents) are encouraged to get close to the machines and "safely satisfy their curiosity as they experience the shovel of a backhoe, the inside of an ambulance, the ramp of a delivery vehicle, and more," says Marchi. Touch-a-Truck really gets the kids involved, and Marchi notes that the event is exceptionally popular. "We expect some 5,000 children, parents, and community members to be in attendance again this year."

The Newton Partnership provides all these activities and more: from weekly badminton, basketball and soccer open gym/drop in hours- to grants to parents to help with daycare costs. But they couldn't do this all alone. The Partnership has affiliations with the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Hyde Community Center, Mayor's Youth Summit, Newton Cares, and Newton Youth Commission, to name just a few.

Just as importantly, The Partnership relies on community volunteers to mentor, coach, support and encourage youth in their programs. "Together with these organizations, we provide mental health outreach and education, as well as other resources to support Newton's youth throughout adolescence," says Marchi. But while it takes the whole community to provide this level of support, it takes an organization like The Newton Partnership to bring all these different voices into unison.

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