Sandy Hook parent speaks to middle schoolers


By Joe Gorman

jgorman@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

No One Eats Alone

inline tease photo
Video

Daniel Barden was always a compassionate kid, even for a 7-year-old. A victim of the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012, Daniel’s compassion lives on through his father, Mark. That’s what Mark Barden explained to a group of middle school students Thursday at Mahoning County High School on Bryn Mawr Drive, as the students were feted for taking part in the No One Eats Alone program by the Sandy Hook Promise.

Daniel Barden was always a compassionate kid, even for a 7-year-old.

A victim of the Sandy Hook school massacre in December 2012, Daniel and his compassion live on through his father, Mark.

That’s what Mark Barden explained to a group of middle school students Thursday at Mahoning County High School on Bryn Mawr Drive, as the students were recognized for taking part in the No One Eats Alone program by the Sandy Hook Promise.

Barden explained to students from the Youngstown school district and the Mahoning County Educational Service Center that his son would take it upon himself to do a kind gesture for a classmate if he happened to see him alone at recess or in the lunchroom.

Barden said he wonders, had someone taken the time to speak to Adam Lanza, the man accused of killing Daniel and 25 of his classmates and staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., if that would have made a difference.

He urged the students to take time out of their day to do simple things, such as saying hello or sitting next to fellow students who are alone. He said studies show that a lot of people who commit violence, especially in school, often feel lonely and unwanted.

“Maybe if someone like you had spoken to him this wouldn’t have happened,” Barden said.

The program is modeled after a similar effort in California called Beyond Differences, Barden said.

Barden said it was very easy for Daniel to reach out to others. He said his teachers often commented on how Daniel would ask on his own to go and sit with someone who had no one to sit with.

“As a parent you love to hear that,” Barden said.

Paula Fynboh, who works for Sandy Hook Promise, told the students that 185 schools in Ohio are taking part in the No One Eats Alone effort in February.

“You all have the power to help people not feel lonely,” Fynboh said. “That’s the power you have.”

Barden said his son also cared for animals. He said Daniel would take ants outside to find their families or take worms off the sidewalk so they wouldn’t get burned by the sun.

“He carried that compassion for others as well,” Barden said of his son. “He was always noticing people around him.”

Barden, who has two other children and whose wife is a nurse, said he was touched when he walked into the school and saw signs and posters proclaiming No One Eats Alone month.

“We’ll never know how good this will do, but we know it will do a lot of good,” Barden said.

Subscribe Today

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive daily news.

Want more? Click here to subscribe to either the Print or Digital Editions.