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Aquatic center to honor governor; Dukakis supports autistic kids' school.

Byline: Elaine Thompson

SOUTHBORO - The New England Center for Children will honor former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis by naming the newly constructed aquatic center for children with autism after him.

NECC will formally open the Michael S. Dukakis Aquatic Center, on the school campus at 33 Turnpike Road, the first building in Massachusetts to be named after the former governor, with a dedication ceremony at 8:30 a.m. June 20.

Mr. Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, will be among nearly 200 friends and supporters, including Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray, to mark this milestone occasion for Massachusetts and the NECC.

"The naming of the Michael S. Dukakis Aquatic Center is a fitting and much deserved tribute to a great man," Mr. Murray said. "Governor Dukakis' advocacy on behalf of children with disabilities and the New England Center for Children is admirable and serves as an inspiration to all of us."

When NECC was founded nearly 33 years ago, Mr. Dukakis was the newly elected governor. He believed that children with disabilities should not be confined in institutions, but should live in communities. His administration was instrumental during the mid-1980s in assisting NECC during the implementation of its community-based model of education for children with autism.

In 2006, the former governor, as co-chairman of the capital campaign, accompanied Vincent Strully Jr., chief executive officer and founder of NECC, to Troy, Mich., to present NECC's case for an aquatic center to The Kresge Foundation, which resulted in a $450,000 Challenge Grant from the foundation. This gift, which led to the receipt of more than $1,000,000 in additional donations, is attributed to the governor's direct involvement in this campaign. Along with co-chairman Thomas Hollister, chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Global Partners, the capital campaign raised $5,500,000. It is through their leadership that the children of NECC can now "swim into a brighter future," Mr. Strully said.

"Governor Dukakis has long believed in the effectiveness of our program and continues to serve as one of NECC's most loyal ambassadors," Mr. Strully said. "We are proud to be able to recognize his support throughout the last 33 years by putting his name on our new building for everyone to see as they drive along Route 9."

The aquatic center, complete with an indoor pool, locker rooms and conference center, complements NECC's strong academic and clinical programs by providing students with equal excellence in physical education. The New England Center for Children provides education and individualized treatment, with care and respect, for children with autism, pervasive development disorder, and Asperger syndrome. For more information about NECC, call (508) 481-1015 or visit www.necc.org.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 13, 2008
Words:447
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