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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.



Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to end school shootings and create a culture change that prevents violence and other harmful acts that hurt children. Through its life-saving, evidence-informed “Know the Signs” prevention programs, SHP educates and empowers youth and adults to recognize, intervene, and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated and/or at risk of hurting themselves or others. Through nonpartisan policy and partnerships, SHP advances gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education at the state and federal levels that protect all children from gun violence in their schools, homes, and communities. 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.  Learn more at

Media Contact:

Stephanie Morris, Dini von Mueffling Communications | [email protected] | 646-650-5005