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Students Work Together to End Social Isolation

“Start With Hello” Week, Sept. 21-25, Helps Build Connection Among Students

Newtown, CT — From video challenges to virtual friendship events, students nationwide are working together to address social isolation by helping classmates make new connections.

Students are creating their own activities and sharing them with their peers to celebrate Start With Hello Week, which is held annually in September as children return to school. Opportunities to connect are critical this year given that many students haven’t seen their friends, or the inside of a classroom, for six months or more.  Each year, this call-to-action week helps students build connections and create a more inclusive environment.

“Social isolation can lead to increased depression and, for some students, thoughts of harming themselves or others,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, and mother of Dylan who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. ”In today’s virtual environment, keeping students connected and feeling included by their peers is more important than ever. We have to do everything in our power to keep our children safe.”

Students are particularly creative this year given that many are still learning remotely. Some are creating messages of hope with chalk in their driveways, while others have organized a suicide prevention walk. Some are encouraging classmates to paint kindness rocks to spread around the community. 

Start With Hello is a no-cost program that helps students minimize social isolation and create a more inclusive school culture. It includes age-appropriate curriculum for students from K-12 and training can be done virtually or in-person.  Our Public Service Announcements, including the Emmy-award winning “Back to School Essentials,”  reinforce the signs and have reached more than 230 million viewers worldwide. 

To date, more than 12 million people nationwide have participated in Sandy Hook Promise’s proven Know the Signs programs that focus on prevention to help end the epidemic of gun violence by training youth and adults how to identify at-risk behavior and intervene to get help before a tragedy can occur. Through these no-cost programs, Sandy Hook Promise has averted countless school shooting plots, teen suicides, and other acts of violence. 

To highlight the warning signs of potential violence, Sandy Hook Promise produces award-winning Public Service Announcements (PSAs), including “Back to School Essentials,”which just won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial of 2019. These PSAs have amassed a combined 230 million views worldwide, helping reinforce that school shootings are preventable.


About Sandy Hook Promise: 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. SHP is a moderate, bipartisan organization that supports sensible policy solutions that address the human side of gun violence and make schools safer. 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.  

Media Contact:

Aimee Thunberg |Communications Director, Sandy Hook Promise 

[email protected] | 203.304.9780 x177