Coconut Creek school adopts anti-bully campaign

COCONUT CREEK, FLA. (WSVN) - Students at North Broward Prep are participating in a weeklong anti-bullying campaign in Coconut Creek.

The Sandy Hook Promise’s “Start With Hello” campaign is all about helping students feel comfortable enough to stand up and speak out. It’s an important lesson that students learned, Tuesday morning.

Three seventh-graders researched how to prevent gun violence in their community and reached out to Mark Barden, who co-founded Sandy Hook Promise. His son, Daniel Barden, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.

“Start With Hello is near and dear to my heart because it’s something my little Daniel used to do on his own,” Barden told 7News. “He used to reach out to an isolated neighbor and see if they needed a friend.”

The first-grader was one of 20 children shot and killed by shooter Adam Lanza, who was described as troubled and possibly depressed when he walked into the Connecticut school and opened fire.

Several people who lost loved ones on that day started the campaign to teach kids to say hello to those who may feel isolated in hopes of preventing another tragedy.

“Doing this work, the Sandy Hook Promise, definitely is a way of healing, of honoring Daniel and to know that I’m preventing other families from living through this,” Barden said.

The three seventh-graders wanted to bring the Sandy Hook Promise to their school. “So we had a national history project, and we wanted to do something with gun violence,” said student Clancy Marsh.

“We messaged him from Facebook, and we got an answer,” said student Jonny Feltingoff, “and she said she would set up an interview with Mr. Barden, so we did an interview on the phone with him.”

Barden spoke to an auditorium full of students about his son and his impact on their community. “My little Daniel was 7 years old when we lost him,” he said. “He had a wonderful capacity for reaching out to others.”

All seventh-grade students placed their hand print on the Pledge Wall at the Coconut Creek school to promise their pledge to start with “hello” and to be inclusive.

“It’s such a beautiful way to see Daniel’s legacy being honored by these wonderful kids here in North Broward,” Barden said.

7News spoke to another father who lost a child during the Sandy Hook shooting and is now on a mission to dispel conspiracy theories about the tragedy. Hear his side of the story in our 10 p.m. report, “Cruel Intentions.”

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