NORTH ADAMS – Attorney General Maura Healey today joined with Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) Co-Founder Mark Barden and North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard for an event at Drury High School in North Adams to launch a partnership with Sandy Hook Promise to provide mental health and violence prevention training to nearly 140,000 students and teachers across Massachusetts.
The AG’s Office and SHP announced last year that they won a $1 million federal grant to bring SHP’s violence prevention and mental health training programs to 50 school districts across Massachusetts, free of charge. The grant has allowed AG’s Office and SHP to significantly increase the number of students and educators trained in evidence-based programs.
“There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our young people and communities,” said AG Healey. “My office is partnering with Sandy Hook Promise to provide mental health training, suicide prevention, and violence prevention programming to Massachusetts schools because we know that empowering our students to know the warning signs of violence will save lives.”
“We know school violence is preventable when we teach youth and adults to ‘know the signs’ of violence and suicide and get help to stop a tragedy before it happens. Students are the eyes and ears of their schools. We must empower them to know what to look for, when to get help, and who to tell,” said Mark Barden, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise, and father of Daniel who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. “These trainings save lives.”
Today’s event at Drury High School, one of the schools receiving prevention training through the STOP School Violence grant, featured a roundtable discussion with students engaged in SHP’s “Start with Hello” program, which teaches students how to recognize signs of social isolation among their peers and build a more inclusive community.
“I’m so grateful to Attorney General Healey, Mark Barden, and Sandy Hook Promise for inviting the North Adams Public Schools to join the STOP School Violence network, as well as for their sustained advocacy, leadership, and their inspiring and necessary example of service in protecting children from gun violence and working to create safer, healthier homes, schools,” said North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard. “I’m proud to proclaim our observance of Start With Hello Week, and to join students, educators and administrators, and family and community members in affirming our shared commitment to take taking action to promote connectedness and inclusion in our schools and throughout the North Adams community.”
The three-year grant will allow the AG’s Office and SHP to train educators and students in SHP’s “Know the Signs” programs, Start with Hello, Signs of Suicide, and Say Something, which teach young people and adults how to identify, assess, and intervene before young people hurt themselves or others. The goal is to prevent school violence by focusing on training students and educators to identify the warning signs of violence and take action before a tragedy occurs. To date, 30 schools located in Attleboro, Weymouth, Brockton, Randolph, Dennis-Yarmouth, Marshfield, New Bedford, and Fall River have participated in training programs made possible through the grant, reaching nearly 21,000 students and teachers. The trainings will continue to be rolled out to 50 school districts during the 2019-2020 school year.
“Start with Hello was an incredible training and its impact was felt immediately,” said Brockton Public School Interim Superintendent Mike Thomas. “This year, Brockton Public Schools continue to incorporate the Start with Hello strategies to ensure every student feels welcome, seen and supported. The mission of the training directly connects to our safe and supportive schools goal and to the social emotional development of our students. We look forward to further trainings from Sandy Hook Promise and are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program.”
SHP’s mission is to provide programs and practices that protect children and prevent the senseless, tragic loss of life. Over the past five years, SHP has trained over 3.5 million adults and students across the country and is deeply committed to preventing violence in schools. SHP is already working in Massachusetts to train students in evidence-based violence prevention programs.
The AG’s Office has made school-based prevention education initiatives a priority and has advocated for legislation that would expand violence prevention and mental health training to every school in Massachusetts. The AG’s Office has also invested resources to promote the health and social-emotional wellbeing of young people. In 2017, the AG’s Office and the GE Foundation launched Project Here, an initiative that is making substance use prevention education available to all public middle schools in Massachusetts.