San Dieguito Academy Newspaper

Joice He

Freshmen, sophomores, and seniors gathered in the gym to hear the Sandy Hook Promise speaker.

Sandy Hook Promise Speaker Promotes Student Care to Prevent Violence

April 19, 2018

Brandon Rainey, a speaker for the violence prevention organization Sandy Hook Promise, addressed the SDA student body on Tuesday in the gym giving a presentation on the youth violence prevention program called “Start with Hello.”

The presentation began with a solemn atmosphere. “Around Christmas time…twenty or so parents get news that something crazy has happened. They find out that 20 6 or 7 year olds have lost their lives,” said Rainey to a quiet auditorium. “In the midst of sorrow, heartbreak, and tragedy…they get together and they say, enough is enough.”

During the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, 20 first graders and six staff members were shot to death by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who then shot himself. According to Rainey, the plan that the Sandy Hook community came up with after this tragedy was the “Start with Hello” youth intervention program. Instead of advocating for gun laws or the confiscation of guns altogether, “Start with Hello” focuses more on preventing violence by promoting a positive attitude and confidence to reach out and help a suffering peer.

“There’s students around you who need you more than you ever realize. Everyone says it with me: If not me, then who? If not now, then when?” said Rainey. “[We want] to simply recruit you…to be a lifeguard on duty. That’s our mission, it’s why we’re here.”

For an hour, Rainey told stories about his life, presented on how to spot someone who is suffering, and provided a step-by-step guide on how to help them, the first step being “start with hello.”

Once the presentation had concluded, it became clear that it was very different from what the audience had expected.

Science teacher George Stimson had cautioned his homeroom the day prior about violence originating from conflicts over strong gun opinions. Since the speaker was from Sandy Hook, most people were under the impression that it was going to be a presentation on gun safety.

“It wasn’t about guns at all,” said sophomore Jin Qian.

Rainey said, “I want to remind each and every one of you…that you are powerful. That you have a seed that can have an impact on someone else’s life. You have a seed, and if you really use it, and step out of fear…you’ll be able to change somebody’s life. That’s the reality.”

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