Dr. Neena McConnico honored for work with children

 ·  Victoria Groves, Transcript@wickedlocal.com   ·   Link to Article

West Roxbury resident Neena McConnico was honored recently by Massachusetts Youth Villages for her work helping children who have experienced and witnessed violence, at a special 2015 Youth Villages Women of Excellence Breakfast at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

McConnico, who grew up in Cambridge and has lived in West Roxbury for the past four years, is the program director of the Child Witness to Violence Project (CWVP) at Boston Medical Center (BMC). A nationally recognized program that specializes in long-term mental health services, family advocacy and outreach for young children who are traumatized by violence, it is one of few programs that focuses on the effects of violence on young children. BMC nominated her for the award.

“I’ve always wanted to help people who didn’t have a voice and don’t feel empowered,” McConnico said. “Intervening early is what helps children overcome and heal.”

In choosing McConnico, Youth Villages praised her for her significant contributions to the mental and physical wellbeing of girls and women in the state. Proceeds from the breakfast benefit girls with emotional and behavioral issues, as well as histories of abuse and neglect who are being helped by the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence residential campus in Arlington.

“Neena has done amazing and important work in helping children who witness violence begin to address that trauma, feel safe, and trust adults again,” said Matt Stone, executive director, Youth Villages Massachusetts and New Hampshire. “Children need to have that security in order to grow, flourish, and reach their full potential. … [We’re] proud to recognize Neena with its Women of Excellence Award.”

From a very young age, McConnico knew that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. With a grandfather who was a social activist and humanitarian, she learned early on that life was unfair for many children due to circumstances beyond their control and that working as a psychologist would be a way to add positive change to their lives. She now holds a doctorate in clinical development psychology and has been a licensed mental health counselor for over 15 years.

She also hopes to serve as a mentor to others who feel that same calling to help this underserved population.

“I try to serve as a role model and foster confidence and positive self esteem in children,” McConnico said. “It’s important to know that no matter what you experience, you can always follow your dreams.”

McConnico also serves as faculty and clinical consultant on the Boston Defending Childhood Initiative and, at her church, is the coordinator of the Nurturing Father’s Program and the Praise Dance Ministry.

For more information about Youth Villages and the Women of Excellence event, visitwww.youthvillages.org/excellence.

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