Okeechobee County School District empowers young people to ‘Start With Hello’

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OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County School District, in partnership with Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit organization led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, participated in “Start With Hello Week” during the week of Sept. 21-25.

“Start With Hello” teaches students how to reach out to and include those who may be socially isolated, as well as to create a culture of inclusion and connectedness within their school or youth organization.

Excessive feelings of isolation can be associated with violent and suicidal behavior. In fact, one study reports that chronic loneliness increases the risk of an early death by 14%. Furthermore, young people who are isolated can become victims of bullying, violence and/or depression. As a result, many further pull away from society, struggle with learning and social development and/or choose to hurt themselves or others.

Start With Hello Week raises awareness and educates students and the community through Start With Hello trainings, advertising, activities, public proclamations, media events, student contests and school awards. Start With Hello Week brings attention to the growing epidemic of social isolation in our schools and communities and empowers young people to create a culture of inclusion and connectedness within their school or youth organization.

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