by Marianne Aiello
North End Waterfront Health’s Health Educator Mary Wright was honored on Thursday, November 17, by St. John School for her outstanding work with youth in the North End.
Wright is a registered nurse with a masters degree in education and began working at NEW Health in 1997. She began her career about 40 years ago working in a hospital emergency room.
“While I was working as an ER nurse that I learned the importance of the nurse as an educator,” she says. “I saw that patients and their families need to be taught how to care for themselves after an injury or illness but more importantly how to prevent injury and illness.”
So when NEW Health CEO Jim Luisi used funding from an anti-tobacco grant to hire Wright as a health educator, she was able to put the knowledge she learned in the ER and her masters degree program to work. Initially Wright focused on smoking prevention and cessation, but she soon took on many more projects to promote good health in the North End.
“This lead to establishing several programs that teach students the consequences of substance use,” she says. “I focus on tobacco because it is considered a gateway drug and if we are able to prevent students from smoking, we may be able to prevent them from using other drugs. As the problem of bullying increased I was able to attend trainings and begin to help kids see the damage that they inflict on each other.”
Wright also helps diabetics manage their disease by teaching them how to eat the right foods and inject insulin. She serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the health center and is chair of the Outreach Committee.
“We are extremely proud of Mary and all of her hard work and dedication to improving the health of everyone in the North End,” Luisi says. “The programs she coordinates at St. John School, the Eliot School, and the Nazzaro Center are helping the next generation create life-long healthy habits.”