Two Million Students Are Taking Action to Create More Socially-Connected and Inclusive Schools

Newtown, CT —  This week, students in elementary, middle, and high schools are joining Sandy Hook Promise’s seventh annual Start With Hello Call-to-Action Week to help address social isolation. From banners, videos, social media campaigns, and even new dance routines, students are creating fun activities with their classmates to help build a more inclusive and connected school environment.  

Encouraging kids to connect is more important than ever during this pandemic. Social isolation, the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely, or treated like you are invisible, is a growing problem in the U.S. and within our schools. Excessive feelings of isolation can be associated with violent and suicidal behavior. Young people who are isolated can become victims of bullying, violence, and/or depression. As a result, many pull away from society, struggle with learning and social development, and may choose to hurt themselves or others.

“Kids are facing some of the biggest struggles of their lives right now. Grief and academic pressure give way to depression, stress, and anxiety. Social support to get through these tough times is absolutely critical to resiliency,” 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. “Empowering students with practical tools and fun ways to connect with their peers can have a life-saving impact.”

Start With Hello is a no-cost, Social-Emotional Learning-aligned program to help teach kids empathy and compassion. The program includes an age-appropriate curriculum for students from K-12 and training can be done virtually or in person. The program teaches three simple yet important steps:  1) notice when someone is feeling left out or isolated, 2) reach out and help, and 3) start with hello. The related call-to-action week provides schools and youth organizations with creative activities to celebrate and ingrain the program’s message in school culture.

To date, more than 14 million people nationwide have participated in Sandy Hook Promise’s proven Know the Signs programs — including Start with Hello — that focus on violence prevention by training youth and adults how to identify at-risk behavior and intervene to get help. Through these no-cost programs, Sandy Hook Promise has averted multiple school shooting plots, teen suicides, and countless other acts of violence.

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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. 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.  

Media Contact: 

Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646.761.5579