OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Monday marks the third anniversary of the mass shooting at sandy hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Twenty children and six teachers were killed.
The mother of one of the victims has dedicated her life to stopping this kind of violence.
Fredricka Whitfield has the story:
(Nicole Hockley/Co- Founder, Sandy Hook Promise): “Especially at this time of the year, seeing some of the winter decorations and classrooms doors. Schools always have a similar look and feel wherever you go.”
That’s because Nicole Hockley’s six-year-old son Dylan was among 26 killed in an unspeakable massacre at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.
(Nicole Hockley/Co- Founder, Sandy Hook Promise): “I can picture Dylan running through the halls and that’s hard. Seeing kids, especially the age that he should be right now.”
He would be 9 now in the 4th grade.
Hockley says her memory of what happened on December 14, 2012 is still incredibly vivid, as is the last time she was in Sandy Hook school.
(Nicole Hockley/Co- Founder, Sandy Hook Promise): “My husband and I went back and we walked through the halls and I was able to spend some time where his body was found. I was able to leave behind two purple butterflies, one for him and one for Anne Marie, his special education teacher, to just try to connect with him in some way.”
(Nicole Hockley/Co- Founder, Sandy Hook Promise): “That’s where you guys are going to make a difference, that’s what’s important”
Hockley digs deep, connecting with lots of children at dozens of schools across the country.
Hockley and other Sandy Hook families founded the group Sandy Hook promise to help each other heal and provide training for both adults and young people on how to detect and help prevent gun violence.
(Nicole Hockley/Co- Founder, Sandy Hook Promise): “Teaching kids how to learn the signs of someone who might be at risk, such as drastic changes in behavior, drastic changes in actions.”
Sandy Hook promise issued a challenge to schools nationwide to come up with their own approach. Students at this Oklahoma High School were so moved, they launched their own say something campaign, with signs, bracelets and this ..
The video made a big impact.
(Paige Peterson/Freshman, Moore High School): “We have officers here and staff members that will protect us. We have lockdown procedures, but seeing the video and being in the video, it kind of made me realize especially the statistics of how many people can cause school violence based on home life, personal life. It just really got to me.”
(Noah Ramos/Senior, Moore High School): “It’s simple things… smiling in the hallways instead of just going through with a stony face. Making an effort to talk to people and sit with them if they’re not with anybody else.. and actually actively making friends. You don’t even have to say anything really. It’s just the presence. Just sit down with them… “how are you today? Do you want to eat with me?” Simple things like that.
And so Hockley’s group awarded Moore High School $10,000 to take it even further.
Everyone has a process.
“This is the first time we’re putting up a Christmas tree. And tomorrow we’re going to go find a tree and we’re making ornaments on Sunday cuz all of our old ornaments were personal. So we’re trying to create new memories now.”
New memories and a new outlook this mother admits
Have come in the hardest way.
(Nicole Hockley/Co- Founder, Sandy Hook Promise): “If you can think about every single time why you wanna prevent violence, save a friend, have a safer school… That inspiration and motivation is gonna keep you going. This is one of my why’s. This is my son Dylan, who was 6 when he was killed… My other son Jake was eight when he lost his brother and he was in the school at the time of the shooting… he’s also my why.”
And why, she says, everyone plays a role.
(Nicole Hockley/Co- Founder, Sandy Hook Promise): “Dylan was autistic and he had some developmental delays. But one of the things he did to show is happiness and his energy was to flap… Dylan was a flapper. I asked him once why do you flap? And he said because I’m a beautiful butterfly. It’s been said that a butterfly on one side of the world flapping its wings can cause a hurricane on the other side. At Dylan’s funeral, I said if that’s true, then 26 butterflies can do more than cause a hurricane, they can change a country… I look at this room and there’s a heck more than 26 butterflies in this room. You are all butterflies, you are the ones flapping your wings and you are the one who are gonna make the change happen.”