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Media Advisory/Press Release

Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez Leads Awareness Day for Latino Mental Health on April 29—Visits Elementary School and Attends Gala

April 25, 2011–Boston (West Roxbury), MA–New England Patriot Tight End Aaron Hernandez will spend Friday, April 29, 2011 at two events to raise awareness of the need for more mental health providers to care for the Latino population and a unique program to train such professionals—the Lucero Latino Mental Health Program at Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP). Hernandez has taken up the cause because of his own childhood in an underserved community and because of the growing crisis in Latino mental health. Nearly one in eight people in the US are Latino, but only approximately two percent of psychologists are linguistically and culturally capable of caring for them.

Hernandez Tells 120 Kids to Keep Minds and Bodies Healthy

Gardner Pilot Academy, Auditorium
30 Athol Street
Allston, MA
April 29, 2011
1:00 - 2:00 pm

Hernandez, sharing stories from his own life, will tell his audience of 120 third, fourth and fifth graders that taking care of their minds and emotions are as important as taking care of their bodies and visa versa, when it comes to health and living happy, successful lives. He will also encourage them to seek help from their teachers, coaches and counselors when they are worried, sad or scared about something in their lives. The kids will then have a chance to ask him questions. He will end his visit by leading them in a physical activity.

Hernandez chose the school because 70 percent of its students are Latino and because of its commitment to providing onsite mental health services through its partnership with the Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, Inc., www.jmschc.org, which has a satellite clinic based at Gardner Pilot Academy www.gardnerpilotacademy.info. Students from MSPP’s Lucero Latino Mental Health Program train and provide services at this clinic.

Hernandez at the MSPP Lucero Gala

Newton Marriott
2345 Commonwealth Avenue
Newton, MA
www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/travel/bosnt-boston-marriott-newton/
April 29, 2011
6:00 - 9:00 pm

At MSPP’s Lucero Gala (www.mspp.edu/gala), which will include faculty, friends, staff and alumni of MSPP and leaders of the Latino community, Hernandez will make a plea for continuing support for the Lucero Latino Mental Health program. He will also be on hand for autographs and photo opportunities with Gala attendees.

More About Aaron Hernandez

Aaron Hernandez was chosen in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots and, at age 20, was the youngest player in the NFL during the 2010 season. His story is one of great challenge and even greater success.

A Puerto Rican American, Aaron grew up in Bristol, Connecticut in a loving family environment, but never too far from the local gangs and drug dealers who recruited many of his peers. Aaron excelled on the football field, earning a scholarship offer to the University of Florida, where he played football and won a national championship.

The biggest setback in Aaron’s life was at age 16, when his father Dennis, who had always been his best friend and protector, died as a result of a simple hernia operation. Aaron – who watched his father die – turned to football, his head Coach Urban Meyer, his mother Terry and his older brother D.J. for help and support.

Despite sadness over his father’s death and the ensuing emotional struggles that resulted from that traumatic experience, Aaron went on to become a star at the University of Florida, winning the John Mackey Award, which is presented each year to the best tight end in college football. After being named to the All-American team during his junior year, Aaron elected to enter the NFL Draft.

Aaron’s major in college was sociology because he hoped to learn more about human behavior to develop tools that would enable him to help more people once he was in the position to do so as an NFL player. Aaron is in the process of executing a plan that will allow him to finish his remaining credits in the NFL off-seasons so he can obtain his degree in sociology from the University of Florida.

About the MSPP Lucero Mental Health Program

The MSPP’s Lucero Center was founded to honor the legacy of Dr. Cynthia Lucero, a native of Ecuador, who received her doctorate in clinical psychology at MSPP and shortly thereafter collapsed (and later died) during the 2002 Boston marathon. The program continues her commitment to caring for those in need by immersing prospective psychologists and other mental health professionals in Latino language and cultures. For more information go to www.mspp.edu/community/lucero-center

About MSPP—Founded in 1974, MSPP has created and offered a unique approach to doctoral training for psychologists focusing on the immediate integration of clinical experience with academic studies. The school’s mission is to bring benefits of psychological training to other areas of American society, including schools, the workplace and the courts.

Updated 7/18/12

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