BILLERICA, Mass. – The Valley Collaborative, an alternative high school in Billerica for students with developmental disabilities, presented Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian with their “Making a Difference” Award at their June Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, June 7, 2018.
The award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the disability community. The Valley Collaborative Board chose to honor Sheriff Koutoujian for his creation of the Special Citizens Academy, a free four week program at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office designed for individuals with developmental disabilities who have an interest in law enforcement. The third Special Citizens Academy finished this past May, and 23 Valley Collaborative students graduated as honorary cadets.
“It is so moving to receive this award from the Valley Collaborative. I have been working with the disability community since I was a teenager, and I began the Special Citizens Academy as a way to remind folks that the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is here for every member of our county,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “I’d like to thank Valley Collaborative, Executive Director Dr. Chris Scott, the Board of Directors, and most especially the students.”
The meeting was attended by several Valley Collaborative students who graduated the Special Citizens Academy as well as their parents. Dr. Scott noted that the school’s graduates are going on to careers in the private sector and the military as well as colleges and other educational programs.
“Valley Collaborative was pleased to be able to honor Sheriff Koutoujian with the ‘Making a Difference’ award,” said Dr. Scott. “This award is presented annually by the Board of Directors to a leader in their field who has great influence over policy and reforms impacting the most vulnerable in our society. The Special Citizens Academy has offered many of Valley’s Adults with Special Needs important life skills training that will keep them safe. Sheriff Koutoujian’s community stewardship and good work makes the world a better place.”
The next Special Citizens Academies are already scheduled for fall 2018; interested participants and caregivers can contact Community Affairs Director Ken Doucette at 978-495-7408 to register for the program.