Wake-UP (Wakefield Unified Prevention Coalition) is a group of concerned community members, providers, public officials, youth, and parents. The group uses proven strategies to address and reduce the unique community factors that contribute to high risk behavior in youth and promotes the development of healthy Wakefield youth and families. We are led by a full time project director and part time youth coordinator, who help lead the coalition to implement several strategies including: increased community education, building skills in youth, parents, educators, and community members, addressing the physical environment, and changing policies.
Wake-Up was formed in 2011 by the Wakefield Health Department, Wakefield Police Department, Wakefield Public Schools and concerned residents. In September 2013, Wake-Up was awarded the competitive Drug Free Communities grant, a five year contract totaling $625,000. This grant allowed the coalition to hire a project director and youth coordinator, as well as use funding to implement evidence-based strategies. We have grown substantially over the past two years and have recently convened a Youth Action Team with fifteen members. Wakefield Unified Prevention Coalition has over fifty members with a regular meeting attendance of at least 15-20 people.
Meet the Staff
Catherine Dhingra: Director, Wakefield Unified Prevention Coalition
Catherine has a BA from Denison University and a MS in Human Service Management from UMASS Boston. Catherine has over 15 years of experience in youth development and community based prevention. Prior to starting her position with Wake-Up, Catherine was the Program Director at Girls Incorporated of Lynn where she oversaw the City of Lynn’s Drug Free Communities Funding. Catherine has also worked as a freelance consultant providing trainings on Coalition Development, Experiential Learning, and Youth Leadership. Catherine was an Adult Advisor to Governor Patrick’s Inaugural Statewide Youth Council. Catherine lives in Wakefield, is the mother of two boys currently attending the Wakefield Public Schools and is active in several community groups.
“For years I have been hearing about the silent epidemic of substance use and mental health challenges to our youth. Our grassroots efforts to gather and share our mutual observations on a local level has finally given a voice to this issue in a way that invites proactive problem solving and some hope of a healthier generation.”
-Testimonial from Laurel Skinder Gourville, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, parent, BOH
Kara Showers: Youth Coordinator, Wakefield Unified Prevention Coalition
Kara has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Boston University’s School of Public Health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. In addition to being the Youth Coordinator, she currently manages Mass in Motion-Melrose/Wakefield, a statewide movement that promotes opportunities for healthy eating and active living in the places people live, learn, work and play. Previously, Kara was the original Melrose Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Coordinator and helped grow the coalition to the success it is today. She has two young boys who attend preschool in Wakefield.
Got to know Kara through her interview with Lily: Interview Clip
“As an educator I have found Wake Up to be an invaluable partnership between the school district and community.” Terence Liberti, Vice Principal, Wakefield Memorial High School
“This session was scary but great! So important to be informed and know what my child will probably be exposed to.”
-Testimonial from Wakefield Parent who attended Current Trends in Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs