WHAT IS THE PROBLEM
Social isolation is the feeling of being left out, lonely and treated like you are invisible. At every school and in every community there are children who feel like they have no friends and quietly suffer through each day – especially at lunchtime and other moments where friends gather together.
Young people who are isolated can become a victim of bullying, violence and/or depression.
As a result, many further pull away from society, struggle with learning and social development and/or choose to hurt themselves or others.
WHAT IS THE PROGRAM
Start With Hello (SWH) is designed to bring individuals and communities together to foster looking out for and caring for one another.
SWH asks students, educators, parents and other community leaders who interact with children to take a simple, yet incredibly powerful, action at lunch – making sure that no one eats alone. This simple action, when taught and put into practice, instills the power and reward of social inclusion – that when you see someone alone at lunch (or across any other experience), say hello, introduce yourself, ask them to join you.
SWH delivers a toolkit to help schools and community based organizations (CBOs) implement the program. The toolkit includes events, activities and actions that can be taken to instill the SWH concept and overarching message of inclusion and community.
SHP and SWH are available to help train schools and CBOs. Additionally, there is a downloadable, step by step program booklet for students, teachers and community leaders.
SWH program is available at no cost - all of the resources are available online. The cost of any additional materials – such as flyers and event costs – would be covered by SHP upon request.
WHO SHOULD PARTICIPATE
Start With Hello is appropriate for grades 2-12. Students, teachers and CBO leaders should participate.
WHO WILL BENEFIT
Short-term: SWH will benefit children, faculty, administrators and community based organization leaders involved with the program.
Long-term: entire communities will benefit as generations begin to incorporate this community connectedness and inclusion practice.
The importance of inclusion and the tragic results that can result when people are excluded. Children, teachers and CBO leaders are given tools on how to break the ice, break down barriers and get to know one another (interpersonal interaction) as well as how to create and sustain an inclusive culture / community.