The Say Something program returned to Westerville City Schools last week for its second year. Walnut Springs Middle School, Heritage Middle School, Westerville North High School and Westerville Central High School participated in this weeklong kick off, with the purpose of empowering young people to say something and save lives. 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, Say Something teaches students in middle and high school how to look for warning signs, signals and threats – especially in social media – from individuals who may want to hurt themselves or others and to say something to a trusted adult to get them help.
The program is based on research conducted by Dr. Dewey Cornell and Dr. Reid Meloy, two leading national experts in threat assessment and intervention. When it comes to violence, suicide and threats, most are known by at least one other individual before the incident takes place. In fact, in four out of five school shootings, the attacker told people of his/her plans ahead of time. Additionally, seven out of 10 people who die by suicide told someone of their plans or gave some type of warning or indication. Say Something raises awareness and educates students and the community through training, media events, advertising, public proclamations, contests and awards.
Each building hosted a speaker from the Sandy Hook Promise organization to talk with students about the critical role they play in saving lives and saying something to trusted adults. Andrea Plant spoke to Walnut Springs pupils, emphasizing how each child can play a part in keeping their school safe. Walnut Springs hosted activities such as role-plays with various scenarios, identifying trusted adults, and a door-decorating contest to spread positive messaging.
Heritage Middle School welcomed Tyrrea Byrd for a school-wide assembly where she delivered a similar message. Students engaged in activities to identify a trusted adult; work through difficult scenarios; and thank someone who has supported them. Door decorating contests, incentives to “Wear Green” on Friday, and a table at lunch with information involved pupils in the Say Something programming.
Westerville North hosted Tyrrea Byrd and Sandra Lopez as their assembly speakers. Activities began with a “Blitz Monday,” when hallways were decorated with green banners, and green “Say Something” signs were posted throughout the building. Students there engaged in various activities during lunch periods to discuss trusted adults, warning signs and signals, and what roles they can assist with at their building.
Byrd ended her week at Westerville Central High School by speaking to various student groups about keeping each other safe. Pupils participated in activities that explored what qualities make an adult trustworthy, and identified adults they can trust. Teachers promised to listen and serve as trusted adults.
All buildings completed their week by signing a Say Something banner and pledging to help keep one another safe.