When we bring a child into this world, there is an unspoken commitment to love, nurture, and protect that child as we guide them on their life journey. As a parent, there is nothing more fulfilling than watching your child learn and grow. And there may be nothing more painful than the emotional suffering endured when the life of the child you have committed to love, nurture, and protect is senselessly cut short.
I regularly speak with parents, students, school staff, leaders, and safety and mental health professionals across the country in my work with Safe and Sound Schools. I am often asked the question, “How do you move on?” Honestly, moving on is not something I can or want to do.
My daughter Josephine is as much a part of my life today as the day I watched her skip into Sandy Hook Elementary School for the last time. To me, moving on is a state of being or acceptance. My healing is about moving forward in a state of action and determination. To that end, Alissa Parker and I co-founded Safe and Sound Schools in 2013 to honor the lives of our daughters, killed at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14, 2012, and to ensure that school communities across the country have the resources they need to prevent, respond to, and recover from crisis.
Building a community
For us, moving forward is about sharing our stories to inspire individuals and unite communities around something we all agree on: keeping our kids safe. Sharing our personal experiences can be painful; but, Alissa and I realize it is an opportunity to begin those necessary conversations about the little and big things we can do to make our schools and communities safe places for our most precious people. We actively engage parents in the work by providing programs like our Parents for Safer Schools.
Moving forward is a willingness to remain aware of and learn from the myriad crises that directly impact our children and educators at home and abroad. Whether confronting man-made or natural disasters, we continue to be humbled by the knowledge, wisdom, and insight survivors and experts who support and work with Safe and Sound Schools contribute. All of those shared experiences guide us on our mission to deliver critical services and aid to school communities across the country.
Lastly, moving forward means equipping our schools and communities with the knowledge, skills, and training needed to provide a safe and secure school for every child.We remain determined to make measurable change by implementing policies, practices, and protocols that save lives when there is a threat to our children at school. To move forward, we must ensure that the adults charged with protecting our children know their responsibilities and have the tools they need to help prevent and respond to crises. Keeping our kids safe at school and in our communities is everyone’s responsibility. Moving forward together is the only way we can prevent other parents from being asked that question, “How do you move on?”
Michele Gay, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Safe and Sound Schools, [email protected]