Sandy Hook mother promotes social and emotional learning

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Six-year-old Jesse Lewis had written the words nurturing, healing and love on a chalkboard in his kitchen just days before he was killed in the Sandy Hook shootings.

“Nurturing means loving, kindness and gratitude. Healing literally means forgiveness and love is compassion in action,” said Scarlett Lewis, Jesse’s mother.

Since her son’s death back in December of 2012, Scarlett has made it her mission to spread Jesse’s message through ‘The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation.’ Scarlett, along with Jesse’s older brother JT, has traveled the U.S and the world promoting social and emotional learning in schools.

“I feel like Jesse, through his message, handed me a torch and I’m kind of his spokesperson on earth now,” said Lewis.

Lewis says 30 years of research has shown that children with access to social and emotional learning are happier, healthier and well adjusted.

This week marks the second annual Social and Emotional Learning Week here in Connecticut. Lewis spent much of the week visiting students and educating others about the need to have these types of programs in place. The week culminated today with a ceremony at Quinnipiac University where students from all cross the state came together to present murals they created to honor Jesse’s message of choosing love.

“I was really excited to do this because it was such an honor and it’s just really special,” said mural artist Madeline Minichetti.

Minichetti is a fifth grader at North Street School in Greenwich. She designed a mural and her classmates helped add the finishing touches. Minichetti skipped her recess for nearly two weeks to get the job done.

Other murals were done by students at Wilby High School in Waterbury, Fair Haven School and Metropolitan Business Academy in New Haven, Side by Side Charter Charter School in Norwalk, and Notre Dame High School in Fairfield.

Senator Richard Blumenthal has helped Lewis in her crusade to promote social and emotional learning. He was there today to tell the students he plans to bring their murals to Washington, D.C.

“It is part of what children need to see and know, how to resolve conflicts without fighting, how to work with each other without confrontation, how to love each other,” said Senator Blumenthal.

Blumenthal said he is working to bring social and emotional learning to every student here in Connecticut. Lewis said ‘The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation’ has created the Choose Love Enrichment Program, a curriculum that will be free to educators and available within a few months.

Lewis says she will continue her work in hopes it helps prevent violence and fosters love and acceptance instead.

“I know that Jesse is here. He’s leading the whole movement to choose love and he is just in his element and just in his glory, just like I am,” said Lewis

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