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Sandy Hook Promise Launches "Start with Hello" Week

National call-to-action week tackles social isolation, works to create more inclusive school environments

NEWTOWN, Conn., Sept. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Sandy Hook Promise kicks off Start with Hello Week (September 18 – 22, 2023), a national call to action to help address social isolation and to create more inclusive and connected school environments. More than 4,000 SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) Promise Clubs will participate in events this week to celebrate and strengthen efforts by educators, students, and community members to create a sense of belonging among youth.

It's never too early to teach our kids to spot the signs of isolation and take action to help.

Any school or community organization wishing to create a culture of kindness can utilize Start with Hello, an age-appropriate program with proven effectiveness available at no-cost to schools and youth organizations, that teaches K-12 students how to look for signs of social isolation and increase inclusivity and empathy with their classmates.

More than two million students are expected to join in Start with Hello Week. Sandy Hook Promise makes it free and easy to participate by providing resources including:

  • A planning guide for schools and students
  • The Start with Hello training for grades K – 12
  • Access to lesson plans and activities
  • Chance to be recognized in the Start with Hello Week Awards

"Inclusion and belonging are imperative for a child's development at any age," said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. "Start with Hello Week is a great way to encourage empathy and understanding among students and their community members – an important first step in violence prevention."

Social isolation, suddenly withdrawing from friends and family, and bullying are all among the critical warning signs of violence, and that an individual may be in crisis. Start with Hello Week tackles these issues by teaching students to recognize these signs of loneliness and empower them to reach out to help.

Knowing the warning signs and how to get help to prevent violence has been proven to work. According to an analysis of every major school shooting by the U.S. Secret Service, in almost every case, students observed warning signs before an act of violence took place. They concluded that recognizing concerning behaviors is essential to prevention. Bullying and social isolation are among those signs. Start with Hello Week encourages students to have empathy for others, helping to reduce social isolation and directly address bullying.

"Small, proactive steps like these can make a big impact in preventing violence in our schools, homes, and communities," said Hockley. "It's never too early to teach our kids to spot the signs of isolation and take action to help."

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) envisions a future where all children are free from school shootings and other acts of violence. As a national nonprofit organization, SHP's mission is to educate and empower youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities. Creators of the life-saving, evidence-informed "Know the Signs" prevention programs, SHP teaches the warning signs of someone who may be in crisis, socially isolated, or at-risk of hurting themselves or others and how to get help. SHP also advances school safety, youth mental health, and responsible gun ownership at the state and federal levels through nonpartisan policy and partnerships. SHP is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

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