WOODLAND PARK, NJ - Throughout the week of Feb. 5 to 9, students at Beatrice Gilmore School in Woodland Park worked to "Start With Hello."
The initiative was created by Sandy Hook Promise, a national non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.
Based in Newtown, Conn., the intent is to honor victims of gun violence by turning the Sandy Hook tragedy into a moment of transformation by providing programs and practices that protect children and prevent the senseless, tragic loss of life.
"Throughout the week, Beatrice Gilmore students were informed of the week's important message - if you see someone alone, you can reach out and help by starting with hello - through the use of announcements and bulletin boards," said Beatrice Gilmore School counselor Danielle Indri. "They had a lot of fun during the week."
On Tuesday the students had a Mix-It-Up Recess, which was an adaptation of the monthly Mix-It-Up Lunch days that are held at the school which are based on the concept from Teaching Tolerance. During this recess the students watched a powerful video from Beyond Differences that showcased including others. After watching the video and a quick check for understanding the students played human bingo with their table mates.
On Friday the students and staff created their own "Hello my name is" badges which included something unique about them. They wore them all day and were then given a challenge to say "Hello" to people they may not have talked to before.
The badges were to help them foster conversations, Indri noted. The students also worked on "Why I Start With Hello" pledge cards to finish the week. Select pledge cards were chosen to be displayed in the counseling office.
"I feel like this week had a wonderful impact on our students," Indri said. "They seemed to really resonate with the simple message."
Indri added that she would utilize the educational materials provided by Sandy Hook Promise throughout the rest of the year to promote kindness and inclusion and that the school would be participating again next year.
Find out more about the program at www.sandyhookpromise.org.