FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dini von Mueffing Communications
Dini von Mueffling / Stephanie Morris
NBA All Star Alonzo Mourning and The Heat’s Wayne Ellington Launch
Miami-Dade County Public School Gun Violence Prevention Initiative City-Wide
with Sandy Hook Promise
Miami, Florida – September 19, 2016 – Former and current Miami Heat players Alonzo Mourning and Wayne Ellington, who lost his own father to gun violence, launched Sandy Hook Promise’s gun violence prevention programs in an unprecedented city-wide rollout to all Miami-Dade County middle and high schools today at John A. Ferguson High School. SHP Co-Founder and managing director Nicole Hockley, whose first grade son Dylan was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly four years ago, and MDCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also spoke with students about the importance of these programs and violence prevention.
Wayne Ellington addressed the senior high students, “Two years ago, in 2014, my father was taken from me. He was shot and killed in Philadelphia in a senseless act of gun violence. Since that day, I have become passionate about gun violence prevention. It is wonderful to see that students, teachers, and community leaders in my new home, Miami, have made it their mission to prevent gun violence from the ground up. Never before has a city bravely taken on gun violence, mental health awareness, and inclusion throughout all of their public schools.”
Alonzo Mourning passionately endorsed the historic initiative, “We are all so proud to be here, to be a part of this incredible stance against gun violence. The city-wide adoption of three of Sandy Hook Promise’s gun violence prevention education programs is a brave and important step towards creating a safer community for our children. As a father, as parents of three, my wife and I can’t imagine the feeling of loss that parents like Nicole and many others have endured. In the US alone, the gun homicide rate is 43 times higher than the rate of 50 other countries.”
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.
Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise, Nicole Hockley delivered a moving speech explaining her motivation to prevent gun violence. Hockley noted that “I truly believe that the best way that we can prevent these acts of violence and self harm is to get ahead of them, is to learn the signs and signals of someone who is in need of help and to get them help long before they decide to take action.”
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.
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.
Following the kick-off, middle and high school students throughout Miami will participate in a week-long initiative based on SHP’s “Start With Hello” program, as way to galvanize students and educators. On Tuesday, September 20th, former Miami Heat starter Alonzo Mourning will join students at the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School Biscayne Bay Campus for the themed activity.
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.