Mother of Sandy Hook victim urges students to choose love
SACRAMENTO (KTXL) -- On December 14, 2012, Scarlett Lewis' life changed forever.
Her 6-year-old son, Jesse, was one of 26 people killed when gunman Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
At least nine survivors say the only reason they lived was because Jesse yelled for them to run.
After the massacre, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Report announced three major findings.
"One was more gun safety, one was more access to mental health and the other was social-emotional learning," Lewis said. "It went as far to say that if there had been social-emotional learning the tragedy would never have happened."
That's why Lewis started the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation, which provides a free curriculum for educators on social-emotional learning.
"It's teaching how to get along, how to have deep and meaningful connections, how to manage emotions," she said. "It's teaching coping skills."
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She says it all starts with nurturing, healing, and love -- the last message that Jesse left on his kitchen chalkboard.
"It was a spiritual awareness that he wasn't going to be on earth much longer," Lewis said. "That it was a message of comfort for his family and friends."
Prairie Elementary Teacher Lisa Mackenzie launched the Choose Love formula at the Elk Grove School District last year. Already, she's seeing a difference in the students.
"They're able to look at other students and read their faces, which is often times something that goes unnoticed," Mackenzie said. "They are more forgiving, and become better problem solvers."
The program is spreading quickly, having been downloaded more than 1,000 times in 47 states and 20 different countries. Lewis believes its popularity stems from the universal message of love.
The message struck a chord with 6th-grader Mahima Kumar.
"If we don't change then who's going to change? And the world needs more love so that there wouldn't be any hate," Kumar said.