By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer
A CMSD elementary school has been recognized nationally for its efforts to reduce bullying and isolation on campus. Adlai-Stevenson PreK-8 received an honorable mention for its participation in the “Start With Hello” Call-to-Action Week from the Sandy Hook Promise.
The Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a gun violence prevention organization born out of the 2012 mass shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. The “Start with Hello” program was created to give students at participating schools the tools they need to reach out to peers who are experiencing extreme social isolation and loneliness.
Adlai-Stevenson is one of 25 CMSD schools participating in United Way’s Wraparound initiative. Wraparound works to address the challenges connected with poverty that can impact a student’s academic success by placing a coordinator in each school to provide students and families with the resources they need, including access to food, medical and mental health services and weather-appropriate clothing.
“‘Start With Hello’ teaches our young people how to notice and reach out to each other,” Mark Barden, managing director of SHP said in a news release. “Reducing social isolation starts with our young people and we can empower them to build connections and help others in their classrooms, schools and communities.”
Barden’s 7-year-old son Daniel died in the Sandy Hook shootings.
The campaign ran Feb. 8-12, reaching more than 360,000 students in 564 schools nationwide. It invites participating schools to find creative ways to engage students who are often left out or alone — starting with making sure no one eats lunch alone — then builds with other provided activities and actions to apply the idea to the students’ broader, everyday community. Participating schools’ award applications are then reviewed by SHP staff.
“I can honestly share that members of our team were moved to tears when they heard the stories and saw the impact your work had on empowering young people to reduce isolation, build connectedness and prevent violence before it takes place,” Paula Fynboh, National Field Director for SPH, wrote in her congratulatory email to Nathan Lilly, site coordinator for Adlai-Stevenson.
Adlai-Stevenson will be presented with a certificate at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year by leaders from SHP.