May 15, 2017

PHSC To Receive Award for ‘Start With Hello’ Efforts

start with hello logo

What started with a simple “hello” in February will result in a celebration in Pickerington schools Tuesday.

On Tuesday, May 16, Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), will visit Pickerington High School Central to present the Start With Hello Community Reach and Sustainability award and $1,000 prize. Barden, who lost his first-grade son Daniel in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, will recognize PHSC students for their outstanding efforts to integrate and implement the core values of SHP’s Start With Hello program among its student body.

From Feb. 6 to 10, Pickerington High School Central led a community-wide effort called “Start With Hello.” The week’s activities included asking the community to wear green on Wednesday, Feb. 8, in support of the initiative. A local Dairy Queen handed out free Start With Hello green blizzards. Community businesses hung Start With Hello signage throughout the week, and together with students created videos to share with the community at large.

Students also held presentations with the Pickerington Chamber of Commerce and city leaders. In addition, the senior high school students trained the junior high students how to identify someone who may be chronically isolated and taught them how to Start With Hello.

The Start With Hello program was developed by parents at Sandy Hook Elementary, site of a 2012 mass shooting in which 20 children and six adults were killed. By encouraging people to reach out to others – and to try to eliminate feelings of isolation and “aloneness” they may feel – the goal is to prevent similar problems in the future.

Start With Hello is an results proven, free, and easy-to-implement program that empowers students to create an inclusive and connected community by reaching out to those who may be chronically isolated, marginalized or rejected, to let them know that they are seen and valued.

Social isolation is the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely, or treated like you are invisible. It is a growing epidemic in the United States 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. SHP created the Start With Hello program as part of its mission to prevent gun violence – and other forms of violence – before it takes place.

Since its inception, Sandy Hook Promise has educated over 1.9 million youths and adults with its Know The Signs Programs on mental health & wellness, identification of at-risk behaviors and how to take action and get help before a situation escalates. Those trained are now able to spread SHP’s vital messages and help prevent gun violence BEFORE it happens.

Almost 1,100 schools and youth organizations across the country participated in SHP’s 2nd Annual Start With Hello Week February 6 – 10, 2017.