Every year, an average of 2,277 children die from gun violence in the United States. In 4 out of 5 school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker’s plan and failed to report it. In fact, most mass shootings are planned for six months to a year; in almost every one of these documented cases, the attacker had given warning signs. No matter how frequently we see these tragic stories, they do not become any less appalling. Thankfully, there is something we can do about it.
Following the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of December 2012, several family members who had lost loved ones created a non-profit organization, Sandy Hook Promise. Their mission is to prevent gun violence by teaching children and adults how to recognize the signs of an individual who may be at-risk of harming themselves or others and how to intervene.
A culture of inclusion
This February, Sandy Hook Promise is leading the Start With Hello campaign to raise awareness about self-isolation and to teach students and their communities how to create a culture of inclusion and connectedness.
Self-isolation is a growing epidemic in the United States, especially within our schools. Self-isolation is the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely, or treated like you are invisible. Young people who are isolated may become victims of bullying, violence, or depression, which may result in further distance from their communities, difficulties in their social and learning environments, and even the decision to hurt themselves or others. The Start With Hello campaign teaches students how to reach out to and include those students who are suffering from isolation.
Schools and youth organizations can participate in Start With Hello Week by agreeing to host a free, easily implemented, flexible Start With Hello training session during the week of February 6 – 10, 2017. The training takes less than an hour, and further post-training activities are offered if your school or organization would like reminders and refreshers throughout the year. Find more more details
Certainly, the power of a smile should not be underestimated either! Not only has smiling been proven to enhance health and happiness, but it is also proven to be contagious – meaning you can spread those benefits around! Smiling activates the release of stress-reducing neuropeptides and the release of the “feel good” neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters relax your body, and can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, the neurotransmitter serotonin serves as an anti-depressant and mood lifter. You can play a positive role in your community simply by being a friendly face!
Whether you choose to participate in Start With Hello week or just spread smiles wherever you go, there are plenty of ways to reach out to those who may be feeling isolated and scatter positivity in your community.
Are you interested in making a positive impact in your community? Visit the Start With Hello campaign website here.