FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 28, 2015; CONTACT: Judith O’Connor (Judith@jesselewischooselove.org);
Governor Dannel P. Malloy released an Official Statement proclaiming the week of June 28th through July 7th as “Social and Emotional Learning Awareness Week” in the state of Connecticut. Social and emotional learning (SEL) can be taught in schools in addition to reading, writing and math; while SEL teaches children how to get along and how to mange their emotions it also fosters personal responsibility and resiliency. Social and emotional learning is a proactive and preventative mental health initiative that has been proven to reduce addiction and behavioral problems while increasing student performance and physical and emotional well-being.
The Proclamation reads as follows:
Whereas, addressing the complex mental health needs of children, youth, and families today is fundamental to the future of the State of Connecticut; and
Whereas, children’s mental health disorders affect children of all ages, genders, races, and backgrounds, and an estimated 13-20 percent of our nation’s youth can be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in a given year; and
Whereas, social and emotional learning is an increasingly important process for learning fundamental life skills, including how to recognize and mange emotions, how to deal with oneself and others in a positive relationship, and building compassion and empathy for others; and
Whereas, social and emotion learning can have a positive impact on school climate by promoting academic achievement, social awareness, and emotional growth; and
Whereas, by bringing attention to social and emotional learning, we raise awareness for its importance in the growth and development of our nation’s children; now
Therefore, I, Dannel P. Malloy, Governor of the State of Connecticut, do hereby proclaim June 28-July 5, 2015 as Social and Emotional Learning Awareness week in the State of Connecticut.
Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, the Office of the Child Advocate released a report that found SEL could prevent future incidences. Scarlett Lewis, mother of Jesse McCord Lewis, 6, who was one of the victims at Sandy Hook requested the proclamation in honor of Jesse’s birthday, June 30th. Lewis has traveled the world since the tragedy spreading a message Jesse left on their kitchen chalkboard shortly before he died, ‘Nurturing Healing Love.’ The words aren’t in the vernacular of a 6 year old and were phonetically spelled because he was just learning to write in first grade. But Lewis says these three words are in the definition of compassion across all cultures and are the foundational concepts of social and emotional learning. She feels that one solution to school violence and mental health issues is to teach social and emotional learning in our schools.
“Almost half of our youth, 49.5 percent, will be diagnosed with a mental illness by the time they are 18” Lewis said, citing a study by the Child Mind Institute. “The average age for the onset of anxiety is 6 years old and the majority of these kids will not get professional help so they will struggle alone. Social and emotional learning helps kids understand their emotions and they are better equipped to deal with them. Children who are exposed to social and emotional learning will be less likely to be overcome by their emotions and turn to drugs or alcohol or even violence.”
The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation was created in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy to cultivate awareness about the importance of social and emotional learning for our school children and to work with professional educators to develop enrichment programs to teach children these essential life skills. Dr. Chris Kukk, the Director of the Compassion, Creativity and Innovation Center and the Kathwari Honors Program at Western Connecticut State University is on the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation Board of Directors and has met with Governor Malloy as well as President Obama to discuss this issue. “Peer reviewed research in neuroscience over the last decade clearly shows that SEL,” according to Dr. Kukk, “is the foundation upon which many aspects of cognitive development rest. SEL has proven to help not only raise academic scores but improve dropout and school suspension rates as well as reduce incidences of school violence. With a $7-11 return on every $1 spent, effective SEL programs are bargains that no community can afford to pass up.”
US Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Chris Murphy and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty introduced the “Jesse Lewis Empowering Educators Act” recently into the US Senate to amend the ESEA to include a definition of SEL and to provide funds to teach educators and principals SEL concepts during Professional Development Days. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) said, “I will be thinking of Jesse’s inspiring courage and caring when I return to Washington to renew my support of the Jesse Lewis Empowering Educators At as an amendment to he Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Jesse had emotional intelligence way beyond his years, and it is my hope that we can instill those powerful qualities in children nationwide by giving teachers and educators the right tools and training. This proclamation is a fitting and important tribute to Jesse, and i will take its words – and Jesse’s story – to Washington as a mandate for action.
Lewis wrote a book, “Nurturing Healing Love” about her journey of hope and forgiveness that was released October, 2013.