FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dini von Mueffing Communications
Dini von Mueffling / Stephanie Morris
Miami-Dade County Public Schools to Take Proactive Step Against Violence
District-Wide with Sandy Hook Promise’s Proven Programs
Former and Current Miami Heat Players Alonzo Mourning and Wayne Ellington to Speak at Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ City-Wide Launch of Violence Prevention Programs with Sandy Hook Promise
Miami, Florida – September 19, 2016 – This fall, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) is partnering with leading gun violence prevention organization Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) to roll out its proven “Know the Signs” violence prevention programs to all of its middle and high school level students district-wide. In a city where on average 30-35 MDCPS students are killed per year, this is a huge proactive step toward decreasing those figures and curbing violence, as well as teaching its students life-long core skills that will help them identify at-risk individuals in school and within the community.
This roll out of violence prevention programs throughout the city of Miami is unprecedented, as no other city in the country has proactively decided to educate all of its middle and high school students district wide. MDCPS, the fourth largest school district in the country, decided to take this step with SHP after a successful pilot that took place at the beginning of 2016.
"All of us at Sandy Hook Promise are honored to be working with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Rolling out these programs on such a grand scale is so inspiring and exactly what communities need,” says Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, who lost her first grade son Dylan at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “Our children should never have to suffer from violence or self-harm and with these programs and preventative measures we can have impact, stop violence before it happens, and ultimately, save lives."
In recent years, especially in the inner city of Miami, children and teens have been the most affected by gun violence. SHP’s “Know the Signs” programs teach students how to combat and prevent violence, by focusing on precursors and identifying at-risk behaviors in people that need help. Two of the programs train students directly, focusing on social isolation and how to create a community of inclusion and connectedness through the “Start with Hello” program, as well as how to identify students that exhibit at-risk behavior – in person or via social media – and how to properly intervene through the “Say Something” program. A third program, “Safety Assessment & Intervention” trains teachers, educators and administrators how to assess and act on all threats of violence or self-harm, taking action and getting the student help before any escalation.
“We are honored that Miami-Dade County Public Schools was chosen by Sandy Hook Promise as the launching site for this program,” said Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho. “Our Values Matter Miami initiative, which empowers our youth and strengthens character development in our classrooms, is seamlessly aligned with this national gun violence program.”
Most gun violence is preventable when you know the signs. Sandy Hook Promise, which was founded by several families of those killed at the tragedy in Newtown nearly four years ago, is unlike any other organization as it focuses on the days, weeks, months or even years before someone decides to use a weapon to hurt themselves or someone else. They do this by providing free training to students, educators, parents and community leaders by knowing the signs of at-risk individuals and how to intervene before they take potentially tragic actions. To date, through its programs, SHP has helped avert a school bombing and shooting plot in Ohio, as well as multiple suicide attempts and other acts of violence.
The week of September 19th, MDCPS and SHP will celebrate the partnership and galvanize the students and educators by hosting a weeklong initiative based on SHP’s “Start With Hello” program. The weeklong event will kick-off on Monday, September 19th with a presentation at John A. Ferguson High School, the city’s largest high school with over 4,000 students, with schools across the district participating in themed days throughout the week. Former and current Miami Heat players Alonzo Mourning and Wayne Ellington will speak to Ferguson students at the kick-off, along with Carvalho and Hockley who will speak to students about violence prevention and the importance of SHP’s programs.
About Sandy Hook Promise
Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a non-partisan national nonprofit formed and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Based in Newtown, Connecticut, SHP’s sole purpose is to prevent gun violence BEFORE it happens so that no other parents experience the senseless, horrific loss of their child. SHP delivers, at no cost, four Know the Signs programs that teach youth and adults to recognize signs and signals of individuals who may be at-risk of hurting themselves or others and intervene to get them help before it is too late. SHP’s Know the Signs programs have helped stop a school shooting, multiple suicide and firearm threats, while also intervening to help individuals get mental health assistance. Additionally, SHP advocates for sensible state and federal violence prevention policy in the areas of mental health and wellness identification, intervention and treatment as well as firearm access and storage. To bring SHP’s Know the Signs programs to your school or community or help advocate for sensible policy, visit sandyhookpromise.org.