Everybody needs somebody; and when people don’t have that somebody, it can take a toll on their well-being.
To focus on the power of connectedness, kindness and helping one another, Mansfield ISD schools and departments collectively participated in Start With Hello Week.
The week is a nationwide initiative that was started by Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization led by several family members who lost loved ones at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The organization’s mission is to prevent gun violence before it happens by teaching empathy and empowering students to end social isolation.
Mansfield ISD held its Start with Hello Week Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. During those days, students and staff were intentional about noticing and welcoming others through various activities.
“Every day this week has been a different dress-up day and a different challenge for students, so today is ‘Crazy Hair Day’—crazy for kindness,” said Lauren Knox, counselor at Linda Jobe Middle School.
Knox said in advisory class with their social-emotional learning (SEL) groups, students brainstormed random acts of kindness they can do on campus or in the community. They shared those ideas aloud in class and were challenged to do three random acts that day.
“It’s about making kids at the school feel welcome so that nobody feels like they have to hide, nobody feels like they don’t have any friends,” said Katie Keating, an eighth grader at Jobe Middle School. “I think we all kind of tend to stay in our little friend groups, and I think it’s sometimes nice to reach outside of your friend groups and be like, ‘Hey! Do you want to sit with us?’”
This is the first year Mansfield ISD has held a districtwide Start with Hello Week. Organizers said it’s a great launch to the rest of the social-emotional learning lessons and initiatives that are in store.
“We have our Hope Squads ramping up in a few weeks, and we have our kindness week in the spring, so we’re wanting these actions of kindness and inclusion to continue,” said Knox. “It just means a lot that our district came together to do an event like this.”
According to Sandy Hook Promise, Start With Hello has seen great results across the country. Schools have reported reductions in bullying and other harmful behaviors and an increase in emotional wellness of students.
Visit Mansfield ISD’s social and emotional learning webpage to read more about how students are empowered with the skills needed to create more positive learning environments.