MERIDEN — The concepts of nurturing, healing and love were embraced by the Washington Middle School community throughout the month of February with help from the Choose Love Movement.
Choose Love was started by Scarlett Lewis to honor her son, Jesse, who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown.
“The whole movement...started for me when I saw Jesse’s message — nurturing, healing, love — on the kitchen chalkboard,” Lewis said recently to a group of student leaders at Washington. “I knew that was going to be my purpose in life. I was going to spend the rest of my life spreading that message.”
The middle school planned different activities as part of Choose Love Awareness month.
“We have done a poster contest,” said principal Daniel Corsetti. “We have done notes of compassion. We had lessons in our advisory groups.”
Lewis said her message is the same for staff and students.
“We’re all connected in the want and need to love and be loved,” she said. “We all feel pain as human beings and we just want to be happy.”
Starfish Awards are given to specific students for practicing the Choose Love Movement’s mission.
“The Starfish Awards are for those really hard working, resilient kids who really tried to manage their emotions and who have exemplified the formula,” Lewis said. “Who have practiced their courage. Who have shifted their lens through using gratitude. Who have practiced forgiveness on themselves and others and who had the courage to step outside their own lives and even their own busyness and pain to help other people. And choose love.”
The Choose Love Movement also has a mission to create safe schools through a no-cost social and emotional learning platform that teaches students life skills and helps maintain a school culture that reduces violence.
“One of Scarlett’s messages is trying to make the world a better place,” Corsetti said. “We have such amazing kids here that we wanted to give them the opportunity to make the world a better place in their own way.”
Lewis stops by schools, prisons, businesses and other public forums to help share her story and Jesse’s message.
“There’s a lot going on in our schools and I love connecting with the kids and hearing about what’s happening in their lives,” Lewis said. “I love introducing Jesse and his message and giving these essential life skills to kids...So, for me, to come here, I give love and I receive love. It’s beautiful.”