Jan 24, 2017

Pickerington: Start With Hello… And Get Your Green On!

start with hello logo

Pickerington typically shows its pride with big splashes of purple, but on one day in February the community is asked to “go green” and make a difference in the lives of our children.

From Feb. 6 to 10, Pickerington High School Central will lead a community-wide effort called “Start With Hello.” The week’s activities include asking the community to wear green on Wednesday, Feb. 8, in support of the initiative.

“This campaign is designed to help eliminate social isolation by letting everyone know there is a community of support,” said PHSC Principal Stacy Tennenbaum. “Start With Hello reminds our students that the school system and community support them. That they’re not alone.”

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.

All of that starts with one simple word: Hello.

“We try to teach our children to reach out to others, to talk to people who might be sitting alone in a restaurant or alone at the cafeteria,” Tennenbaum said. “Hello is the start of that process.”

District Social Worker Cathy Ely said an integral part of the campaign involves getting the community to participate in the Start With Hello campaign. Businesses are being asked to place Start With Hello posters in their windows and make information about the campaign available to their customers and employees.

Local companies also are being asked to place the words “Start With Hello” on their marquee signs, and the schools will be creating a public service announcement video featuring area business people.

Representatives of local businesses also will be invited to visit the schools for lunch, where they will be given a chance to lead by example and “Start With Hello” with students in our cafeterias.

“We are encouraging our students who see someone who is alone to reach out to them,” Ely said. “That starts by saying ‘Hello.’ We want to prevent social isolation in our schools and our community. We want to create that sense of inclusivity and belonging and being connected.”

Ely said the Start With Hello initiative will show young people there are adults in the community who care. Among those caring adults is a team of social work interns from The Ohio State University who have led the way as school-community liaisons. They see the value in the preventive message and have jumped in to plan and do the work of Start With Hello. “Their commitment is amazing,” Ely said.

“Pickerington is a friendly community. It’s an area where people really do care about each other,” she said. “If you go in and out of different businesses, you feel welcomed. Let‘s all celebrate that.”