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A Start With Hello Week Experience from Idaho

From a student in the Madison School District in Rexburg, Idaho:

 

"This is my experience with the "Start with Hello" project.

What I thought would be an insignificant kindness has turned into something much larger.

Today in my class, we were going to be playing a review game. Thinking of the campaign I thought, "Hey, why not?" I decided that I wanted to be partners with someone different rather than the same person I pair up with.
As I was trying to find someone though, it seemed as if everyone had already found a partner. Turning to the individual I normally pair up with, I asked her if she wanted to be partners. She responded yes. As we were about to begin, however, I noticed someone at the front of the class who was without a partner. Everyone else was paired up. This was a person who some would call " kind of awkward." I myself had never really talked with this person but that was all going to change. Without thinking, I said that this individual could be in our group for the game. When he joined I realized just how thankful I was that this individual was in our group. If I had been the only one left I would have wanted someone to accept me into their group. I was able to get to know him better as we played the game and I felt the IMMENSE happiness that comes ONLY from serving someone else. I feel as if my love for others has grown tremendously. I'm soooo grateful for this experience. If I hadn't asked him to be a part of our group I never would have found out what a great person he was and I wouldn't be feeling this soaring happiness right now.

As I continue in this week, I hope that I can still serve others and notice those who go unnoticed. I want to thank those people who came up with this campaign and gave me the opportunity to say "HELLO" and create new friendships and grow a greater depth of character. Thank you."

White House Official Says School Safety is Improving

"The most powerful threats to school safety, Esquith said, are students who are lonely, fearful and hopeless. He said fellow students are the best tools for getting those kids help and preventing serious harm. “It’s not metal detectors; it’s not arming teachers. It’s when other kids report it,” he said." #‎SaySomething

 

Read more in the Duluth News Tribune, here: http://bit.ly/1Q7RaqV

An American Kid Brings a Gun to School Once a Day

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Once per day, an American kid brings a gun to school. This is why safe storage, in conjunction with teaching students how to say something, is SO important. #‎KeepitSafeAndSecure #‎SaySomething

Read more: http://bit.ly/1nzVsjJ

"Loneliness Grows from Individual Ache to Public Health Hazard"

"Loneliness, long a bane of humanity, is increasingly seen today as a serious public health hazard... The pain of loneliness is like the pain of hunger — it’s a biological signal that something is wrong." #‎StartWithHello

Read more here: http://wapo.st/1NM3c7B

 

Schools Across America Are Facing a Rash of Shooting and Bomb Threats

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Last February, a study that reviewed 812 threats reported in the media from the first half of the 2014-15 school year found that threats had risen 158% since the first time experts conducted such a study the prior year. What's going on?

Find out more here: http://bit.ly/1P9W3zW 

The Missing Data on Gun Violence

The missing data on gun violence: “I ask myself all the time: How many thousands of people have died as a result of our not having the answers to questions because we have not been allowed to do our work?”

Read more from The Atlantic here: http://theatln.tc/1QojKGY

STATEMENT OF MR. MARK BARDEN, FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR of SANDY HOOK PROMISE BEFORE THE UNITED STATES SENATE

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STATEMENT OF MR. MARK BARDEN FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, SANDY HOOK PROMISE BEFORE THE UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE, AND RELATED AGENCIES

January 20, 2016

My name is Mark Barden, a little over three years ago I was a professional musician, husband and father enjoying a simple, happy family life. My wife Jackie grew up in the Bronx and put herself through school to pursue her passion which is teaching. We now live in Newtown CT. with our three beautiful children; James, Natalie and Daniel.

Daniel was our youngest and an absolute light of happiness and joy. Daniel’s sense of awareness, empathy and tenderness transcended his seven years in a way that prompted many to refer to him as an old soul. In school, Daniel earned the reputation as the sweet, little boy who would ask to sit with someone who was sitting alone or having a bad day. In fact, the parents of some of Daniel’s kindergarten classmates requested that their children were placed with Daniel again in first grade. At home Daniel was a bastion of ethics and respect, for instance, at dinnertime he would scold James and Natalie if they tried to pick at their food before Jackie and I were seated, and he also insisted that we offer a prayer of gratitude before we enjoyed our meal.

I apologize if I sound like a braggy parent, but I feel it is important, especially in this context, that you take a moment to consider the humanity and the personal impact of what has been taken from us and what is at stake here.

My family had what we all considered an idyllic existence and an ideal life.

And it all changed on the morning of December 14th 2012. When a gunman wielding an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, equipped with 30 round magazines, shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary school and shot and killed 6 educators and 20 first grade children. One of those children was my sweet, precious Daniel.

In an instant, the little boy who danced around our house, rescued worms from the sun and held doors for strangers - was gone forever. In the days and weeks following Daniel’s murder, like all of us, James and Natalie were left bewildered and heartbroken, with questions that Jackie and I were ill equipped to answer. Questions like “Why would somebody do this” “How could this happen?”

Through the course of research in the hopes of answering these questions, we have learned that over 30,000 people are killed as a result of gun related tragedies in the U.S every year, that’s 89 people, including 7 children. Every single day. Gun related fatalities are on track to exceed deaths by car accidents nationally, and already do in some states. This is unacceptable.

I have subsequently made it my life’s work to try to identify realistic, sustainable solutions and ultimately save other families from living this never ending pain.

I am now one of 3 managing directors of Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the numbers of gun related tragedies down through prevention programs. The bottom line here is that we as a nation, as Americans and as individual members of our families and communities - have to do better.

Shamefully, congress has done nothing to address this epidemic. Thankfully, President Obama is doing what he can within his authority as our elected leader - and as a father, to take meaningful steps toward protecting our nation’s children and making our communities safer.

The package of executive actions the President is offering will help enforce laws already on the books. Adding staff and resources to the existing background check system will facilitate a faster, more efficient transaction for law abiding citizens who wish to purchase firearms. Since many guns used in crimes have been stolen, reporting lost or stolen guns in transit will help minimize the number of firearms that end up in the hands of criminals through this pipeline. Applying better technology to make firearms safer will cut down gun tragedies across the board from stolen guns, accidental discharge by a child and suicide. The President has also proposed increased funding and resources be made available to bolster and improve our mental health care system. Access to quality mental health care is critical to early identification and treatment for individuals who may be on the path to hurt themselves or someone else.

I am before you today as an informed, proud American who knows these modest proposals will go a long way toward not only saving lives, but also improving quality of life. And I am before you today as a grieving father who knows firsthand the cost of inaction. I’m asking you to think of my sweet little Daniel and what was lost here…and the 90 American families who will lose a loved one today, and another 90 tomorrow…and so on every day until we do something.

President Obama is trying to do something, please help him.

Mark Barden's Introduction of President Barack Obama, January 5th, 2016

"On the morning of Friday, Dec 14 2012, my 7 year old son, Daniel was among 20 first graders and 6 educators who were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown CT.

In the 3 years since those 26 precious lives were lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School - far too many more lives have been lost to gun tragedies in this country. Far too many people who are right now hearing these words, are grieving the loss of a loved one to gun violence.

As a nation, we have to do better than this. We ARE better than this.

In April of 2013, I had the honor of introducing President Obama in the Rose Garden. Unfortunately, it was to announce that a bill that had been proposed to close the loophole in the existing federal background check system for firearms sales had been blocked by some members of congress.

But President Obama delivered an address that day that was palpably charged with genuine passion and commitment. The President made a promise to not give up. I remember standing there with my family and Vice President Biden, listening to our president speak and our feelings of despair were replaced with hope.

And I recall thinking.."Who's going to help him do this?"

Since then, I have come to know and respect many amazing individuals and organizations who are doing good, smart work in this space. Many of the folks in the gun violence prevention coalition, including Sandy Hook Promise have had numerous meetings with President Obama, Vice President Biden and their top advisers to address this issue. But we can't do it alone. And the president can't do it alone.
Every gun related death is preventable - and we need your help to do it.

President Obama made a promise as an elected official, and a promise as a father, that he would do everything in his power to protect our nation's children, to make our communities safer and curb the loss of life to gun violence in America.

Today, we celebrate another example of how President Obama and Vice President Biden continue to keep that promise.

It is with great honor that I introduce to you, The President Of The United States, Barack Obama."