Martin Elementary Plans to 'Start With Hello'

New Online Tools Will Help MES To Address Isolation Issues Early
Posted on 09/17/2019
This is the image for the news article titled New Online Tools Will Help MES To Address Isolation Issues Early When you are eight or nine years old, you may think that the boy standing alone on the playground is a sad sight, but you probably don’t know what to do about it. When you are ten, the girl you hear sniffling in the restroom stall would certainly make you nervous. But exactly what can you do?

Martin Elementary students are about to find out. September 23-27 they will be exploring what it means to Start With Hello.

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) launched its all-new Start with Hello digital program this month and Martin third through fifth graders are about to discover the tools designed specifically for elementary schools. Thanks to generous support from The Walt Disney Company, the newly developed online learning platform will teach millions of kids across the country in kindergarten through fifth grade the three steps to encourage interpersonal connection and prevent social isolation: 1) See Someone Alone; 2) Reach Out and Help; and 3) Start With Hello.

Start With Hello (SWH) is an age-appropriate, research-based program that promotes empathy and inclusion by teaching students to recognize the signs of social isolation, overcome interpersonal barriers, and get to know one another. The enduring success of the core SWH program that launched in middle and high schools in 2016 has led to ever-increasing demand to make its teaching accessible to younger students. The new digital companion includes an interactive storybook, videos, activities, projects, and more to demonstrate and reinforce the three steps. These resources and all of Sandy Hook Promise's Know the Signs violence prevention programs are available to schools at no-cost.

"We've had tremendous demand for more Start With Hello training in elementary schools and, thanks to Disney, we were able to develop a new platform for this program that helps young kids better understand how to look out for one another. We believe that the earlier we can tackle social isolation and create connections among students, the more 'upstanders' we can empower to keep schools and communities safe from violence," said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

Social isolation is the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely, or treated like you are invisible and is a growing epidemic in the U.S. Excessive feelings of isolation can be associated with violent and suicidal behavior.  Young people who are isolated have an increased risk of becoming 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 shootings, violence, and other harmful acts in schools.

“At Martin Elementary, we want the lonely child, the child who feels left out or doesn’t know how to make a friend to feel that within these walls and in every activity, they are safe. But we also want to go beyond that and teach our children how to create feelings of acceptance and safety for others. If we do not start helping our children learn how to do this at a young age, we cannot expect them to be able to do this as adults.” said principal Patresa Rogers.

Plans for the week include:
Monday, September 23
Hey Day-Students will be given name tags to wear for the day. Students are encouraged to seek students out, call their name, and say hey.

Tuesday, September 24
Positivity Day-Students will be encouraged to write kind words or motivational quotes on sticky notes. Notes will be stuck to posters in hallway. Students will be able to “take what they need” from posters throughout the week.

Wednesday, September 25
Watchful Wednesday- Students will be on the lookout for new people to play with at recess or for those that do not have anyone to play with them.

Thursday, September 26
Compliment Day-Give a new friend a compliment.

Friday, September 27
School Family Day- Wear spirit wear or blue and gold to show that our school pledges to seek out the lonely, reach out, help, and Start With Hello.

All Week
Hello Bingo-Each class will be given a bingo card. Answers will be called out every morning on intercom during announcements. Classes who bingo during the week will receive a prize.

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. SHP is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.  SHP's mission is to prevent gun violence and other forms of violence and victimization BEFORE they can happen by creating a culture of engaged youth and adults committed to identifying, intervening, and getting help for individuals who might be at risk of hurting themselves or others.