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Schools in Madison County are making a difference this week with the "Start with Hello" initiative. Brought to life by the Sandy Hook Promise Organization, Start with Hello encourages people to reach out in an effort to counter social isolation and prevent gun related violence.

February 5, 2018
Writer: Matthew Christensen

Schools in Madison County are making a difference this week with the "Start with Hello" initiative. It began with the Sandy Hook Promise Organization, which was created by parents who lost children in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting of 2012. What began as a response to social isolation and gun violence prevention has grown to include thousands of schools nationwide.

"It's the idea of educating kids, educating teachers on what social isolation looks like, what loneliness looks like, and what to do when you recognize that in a student or somebody in the community," said Madison Cares communications coordinator Jessica Goudy. In other words, "Start with Hello" is a week set aside where students are encouraged to reach out to someone who seems lonely, and it starts with simply saying "hello." "It doesn't have to be a complex long conversation," Goudy said. "It's identifying someone and just simply saying that ‘hello.'"

This will be the Madison School District's third year running in which they've participated with the "Start with Hello" initiative, and they were recently joined by the Sugar-Salem School District. With 62 local participating businesses, the initiative is aimed to educate teachers and students about the warning signs of isolation, which could lead to potential violence, and how they can reach out.

Goudy emphasized this is not just a school program, "We have amazing support from both the city and the county. It has been officially proclaimed ‘Start with Hello' week." Every day this week, the program has outlined specific ways the community can get involved. Monday is "Hello Around the Globe" - learn to say hello in at least one different language; Tuesday is "Positive Peer Notes;" Wednesday is "Random Acts of Kindness;" Thursday is "It Is Easy Being Green (Wear Green);" and Friday is National "No One Eats Alone" Day.

To learn more about "Start with Hello," visit www.mymadisoncares.com/start-with-hello

You can listen to the full interview below.