Holliston PTO Introduces “Mindshare”

J.D. O’Gara
Community Education Program Aims to Enlighten & Involve Town in Current Topics
 Heather Abbott, Boston Marathon bombing survivor, will be the first speaker of the year for the Holliston PTO’s Mindshare program, an initiative aimed at community education and involvement.
Issue Date: 
October, 2018
Article Body: 

Issues that are facing students today are often the same issues facing society, and Holliston’s PTO has re-fashioned its parent-education program into a public-education program, now more inclusively called “Mindshare,” which will offer events for the Holliston community free of charge.
“(The name) ‘Holliston PTO Parent Education’ was limiting the audience,” says Mindshare Chairperson Anne Buckley. It implied, she says “A. - that they had to be PTO members to attend, and B. – that it was limited to parents. But it’s for parents, teachers, administrators, everybody in the community that has an interest in the topic.
“I think that what happens within the school affects everyone in the community. Whether you have a student in the school, are someone who’s gone through, or never had a student, youth substance abuse, stress and anxiety, those issues don’t just stay within the four walls of the school. We’re offering the opportunity for the community to come and see the hot topics we’re hearing from the classroom and from parents,” says Buckley.
Feedback is a big part of the program.
“We’re not just educating the audience, the audience has a role in entering feedback,” says Buckley. “For every event, we’ll have a Q and A session, and often, there will be a followup session, if there’s a lot of interest and a lot of debate, where we’ll bring in a panel of other experts and stakeholders.”
Last year, this community education program welcomed Dr Ruth Potee on adolescent psychology, presented Dr. Larry Cohen on Playful Parenting, heard from Joani Geltman on Parenting Teens and Cell Phone Addiction, and learned about making non-toxic choices from Kristi Marsh, author of Little Changes. The group also screened the films Most Likely to Succeed and Beyond Measure and provided a follow-up panel with teachers and administrators for discussion and debate. Out of this a focus group was formed to take on challenges and obstacles to creating student-centered learning.
“The direct feedback led to future activity and created something else borne out of that first event,” says Buckley.
This year, in addition to re-screening the films mentioned above, Mindshare will take a look at such topics as grit, determination, overcoing adversity and kindness, says Buckley. She’s also looking forward to presenting an event on social and emotional well-being this year.
Mindshare’s first speaker of the year, Heather Abbott of Newport, RI and Charleston, SC, fits in with those themes. She will share how her annual tradition of watching a Red Sox game and then walking over to Boylston Street to watch the marathon runners cross the finish line went on to change her life forever.
On the afternoon of April 15th, 2013, two bombs exploded in the crowd of well-wishers. Heather was impacted by the second blast and literally blown into the entrance of a nearby restaurant. Former New England Patriots lineman Matt Chatham and his wife, Erin, saw Heather in the bloody aftermath and carried her to safety.
After three surgeries in four days, Heather was faced with an agonizing decision – face a lifetime of agonizing pain from her injuries or allow doctors to amputate her left leg below the knee. With the counsel and comfort of amputees who came to visit her in the hospital, and after much soul-searching, Heather made the difficult decision to live as an amputee.
Her recovery, as it is for so many other victims of traumatic injury, was a journey through pain, anger, fear, disbelief, self-doubt and questioning. For Heather, the ability to move forward came through the support of family and friends, fellow amputees and the countless strangers who not only sent her cards and letters of encouragement – but who also generously donated to a special fund to help her transition and receive the customized prostheses she needed to live the life she once knew.
Today, Heather is once again doing everything she loves to do, including paddle boarding, running and even wearing high heels! Through it all, Heather has remained a model of strength and perseverance. Her determination and passion to help other limb loss victims is evident in everything she does. As a certified Peer Counselor for the American Amputee Coalition, Heather can provide hope and emotional healing.
This month, National Disability Awareness Month, Heather will speak in Mindshare’s free presentation on October 4th, at the Holliston High School auditorium.