BOSTON (CBS) – On Saturday, Boston will be the site of one of the hundreds of “March For Our Lives” marches across the country calling for improved gun control legislation in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting.
But Boston Public Schools are working with a group started by the parents of Sandy Hook School shooting victims to get to the root of the emotional crises that might lead a student to violence.
“Today is important because we’re bringing a message from Sandy Hook Promise – this organization wants you to create safer schools and communities,” said Shane McCarty, one of 11 volunteers in Boston for Sandy Hook Promise, an organization started by families who lost children in the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“I wanna talk about how we can build a closer community,” McCarty said.
This is the first year that Boston Public Schools have partnered with Sandy Hook Promise. So far, about a dozen schools have heard their programs with the goal of getting a presentation into all 125 schools in the Boston public school system.
“I thought it was interesting and inspiring,” said Aaron Galloway.
The message for these fourth and fifth-graders is: Start with a hello. It’s a simple idea that resonates with sensitive youngsters.
Students said they learned from the talk, including to always reach out to a friend, and that even though people around you may not seem lonely, they could be.
For older students, volunteers move on to talks about spotting and reporting a classmate who may cause concern. For these kids, the reminder to reach out to everyone taps into their best instincts.
“There’s three steps to remember: see someone alone, reach out and help, and to start with hello,” said Julie Carvalho.
At a full inclusion school like the Mason, the hope is that what starts early will stay with students through high school.
“It’s very important to get a foundation, solid foundation, understanding of what it means to be isolated, so rolling it out in elementary school is very very important,” said Principal Lauretta Lewis-Medley.
Andria Amador, the district’s senior director of behavioral and health sciences, has been with Boston Public Schools for 19 years.
“That’s an important piece of Sandy Hook, not only talking about how do we build inclusive communities, but how do we know warning signs as students and as teachers and where do we turn to if we have concerns,” Amador said.
Lewis-Medley called the program an important one that “all schools should really implement” and take seriously.
A permanent Sandy Hook Promise staffer works in the Boston schools. They don’t want this to be just one talk that the kids hear and then forget.
Schools are starting “Save Promise Clubs” that will meet throughout the year to discuss safety issues and keep the message going.