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First Coast Connect

04/06/16: Sexual Assault; Music And Autism; Schultz Center; Douglas Anderson's 'The Shadow Box'

Sexual Assault

Jacksonville leaders say they’re determined to do whatever is necessary to help victims of sexual assault.

That was the message this week as Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Angela Corey all spoke out about efforts to reduce a large backlog both here in our area and around the state of untested sexual assault kits.

A multi-million dollar grant has been awarded to the prosecutor’s office to work on this. And a multi-disciplinary team, the only one of its kind in Florida, is operating in this area.

We discuss their efforts with members of the city's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative team: Teresa Simak, special assault division chief with the State Attorney's Office; Morgan Mueller, director of the rape recovery team at the Women's Center of Jacksonville; and Sgt. Eric Weber with the special assault unit at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. 

Music and Autism

April marks National Autism Awarenss Month.

Innovative therapies have gained ground in recent years to help kids on the autism spectrum.

We learn about the work of the local nonprofit Melody and Harmony Music Foundation, which uses music as a form of therapy for children living with autism. 

Dove Hagan, executive director of Melody and Harmony, joins us to discuss their work and their upcoming summer camp.

We also speak with local parent Scott Benyacko and his son, Andrew, who have participated in the program.

Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership

Deborah Gianoulis, president of Jacksonville-based Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership, joins us with a look at the organization's work designing a new statewide early learning training systems for teachers.

"The Shadow Box"

And we preview Douglas Anderson School of the Arts' production of the controversial play "The Shadow Box" with director Michael Higgins and cast members Avery Sedlacek and Preston Pittman.

Sean Birch joined the WJCT team in late 2011 and was with the company until 2016.