Neighbors | Abby Slanker.Andre Elliott of the Mahoning County Juvenile Court and a National Sandy Hook Promise presenter addressed Canfield Village Middle School seventh-grade students during Say Something Week, a Sandy Hook Promise event, on Oct. 28.
Neighbors | Abby Slanker.A Canfield Village Middle School seventh-grade student signed the Say Something Pledge during Say Something Week, a Sandy Hook Promise event, on Oct. 28.
Neighbors | Abby Slanker.A Canfield Village Middle School seventh-grade student added his signed Say Something Pledge to the wall during Say Something Week, a Sandy Hook Promise event, on Oct. 28.
By ABBY SLANKER
During the week of Oct. 24-28, along with hundreds of schools and youth organizations across the U.S., Canfield Village Middle School participated in Say Something Week. Say Something Week, a Sandy Hook Promise event, reinforces the power young people have to prevent tragedies and save lives when they ‘Say Something’ to a trusted adult.
Canfield Village Middle School guidance counselor Patrice Loree invited Andre Elliott, of the Mahoning County Juvenile Court and a National Sandy Hook Promise presenter, to address students in grades six through eight Oct. 28.
“I was inspired to invite Andre here to start a discussion about Say Something out of concern for our community because of what recently happened locally. With Say Something, Sandy Hook Promise has done a fabulous job with stressing prevention and being proactive and have taken their grief and turned it into action. They teach reasonable, age appropriate things students can do and teach them to help keep schools and their community safe,” Loree said.
According to Loree, Sandy Hook Promise focuses a lot on social media.
“Sandy Hook Promise focuses on social media. Research has shown that no matter how big or how small something is, if it is tweeted or on Facebook, kids experience grief and guilt after because they saw it online. They have the power to prevent and they need to know they can speak up and talk to a trusted adult. Every member of our staff here has a sign in their classroom that reads, ‘I am honored to be your trusted adult.’ We all want the students to know they can talk to anyone of us,” Loree said.
In introducing Elliott to the seventh-grade students, Loree thanked them for keeping their school and community safe.
“Thank you for keeping our school, homes and community safe. We are safe because of what you guys do. When you get information, speak up and say something because we want to continue to be a safe place,” Loree said.
Elliott started by telling the students they have the ability to make a difference in their community.
“You have the ability to make a difference in your community. You can make it just a little bit safer. Community is wherever you step foot. You can reach out to many young people to work to save lives,” Elliott told the students.
Elliott then told the students of the events that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012, and showed them a video of news clips about school violence.
“We all need to work together and help to prevent these things from happening. We must all take it seriously. You can all be difference makers and save lives,” Elliott said.
Elliott told the students there are three steps to keeping their school and community safe.
“The three steps to keeping your school and community safe are look for warning signs, signals and threats; take it seriously and act immediately; and say something. We need to reach out to people when they are dealing with things and let them know they are supported,” Elliott said.
Elliott continued with explaining what to look for as warning signs, signals and threats. He gave the students a comprehensive list of each and explained to them that lives could be at stake and anyone of them could save a life.
Elliott then moved on to where to find warning signs, signals and threats, such as the school bus, lunch room, hallways, practice and Instagram.
“Social media is the primary source for warning signs, signals and threats,” Elliott said.
Elliott pointed out that the students may also be helping someone with other problems by saying something, such as eating disorders, substance abuse or addiction problems and verbal or physical abuse.
Elliott also wanted the students to know the difference between telling on someone and saying something.
“There is a difference between telling on someone, or tattling, and saying something. Telling on someone is tattling and wanting to get someone in trouble. Saying something is wanting to help someone for the greater good and making sure they get the help they deserve,” Elliott said.
Elliott then focused on the trusted adult.
“Say something to a trusted adult. This adult has the knowledge and experience necessary to know exactly what to do in those situations. A trusted adult can be a teacher, a religious leader, a coach, a principal, guidance counselor, school support staff or a parent. I challenge you to think about who is your trusted adult by the end of the day. I hope each of you are able to find a trusted adult,” Elliott said.
Elliott advised the students on how to have a conversation with their trusted adult.
“First you must gather all the information you have or have come across about a person or a situation and then approach your trusted adult and tell him or her you need to talk about a specific person. Then you must explain to the trusted adult what you have seen and explain and warning signs, signals or threats. Then you must ask the trusted adult to get that person help and let them know where they can find that person. If you do these three things, you will make a huge difference and have a great impact on your community and help save a life,” Elliott said.
To end his presentation, Elliott asked each student to take the pledge to look for warning signs, signals and threats, act immediately and say something.
“You guys are the eyes and ears of this school. I challenge you to do something about reducing school violence and threats. I challenge you to dig deep down inside to find a way to help others,” Elliott said.
To enforce the point of the pledge, Loree and CVMS teacher Angela Alexandrides asked the students to step into the hallway and sign the Say Something Pledge and stick it to the wall for everyone to see.
The Sandy Hook Promise is 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.