Students take aim at gun violence prevention

106 students came together last week to learn how to help people in their community feel less alone. 

The Students United to Prevent Gun Violence club partnered with Sandy Hook Promise on Nov. 13, in order to educate students on how to prevent gun violence.

The organization Sandy Hook Promise was founded by two parents who lost their children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Members of this group developed two programs: “Start with Hello” and “Say Something.” Representatives from the organization taught these programs to the assembled students.  

According to Kat Fitzgerald, a member of Sandy Hook Promise, the “Start With Hello” program is “pretty much what it sounds like.” It teaches students to recognize people who are “isolated, lonely, have things going on at home that really take up their brain power,” and to reach out to those people to help them feel included in their communities. 

Fitzgerald offered a few remarks about “Say Something” as well. She said this program teaches students how they can effectively take action if they see a warning sign for a potential act of violence. 

“[It] teaches a common language between students and their professors, teachers, whoever is a trusted adult,” Fitzgerald said.

The clubs founders, junior Emma Cleary and seniors Elisabeth Prentice, Abigail Higgins and Danielle Kane, started the club after they went to the March for Our Lives in March 2018. This student-led demonstration took place after the Parkland shooting.

Prentice said after these events, the founders felt that enough was enough and they had to take a stand.

“We hear about these shootings too often,” Prentice said.

Prentice said the issue of gun violence is especially important to the club’s founders, because they are all education majors. All four of them will be working in classrooms in the future, with students they want to keep safe. 

However, she said that anyone can join the club regardless of their academic major. 

“Gun violence doesn’t just happen in schools… We hear about the shootings in Vegas and [in] movie theaters,” Prentice said. “It can happen anywhere.”