“Jesse stayed by his teacher even when the armed gunman, a mentally disturbed 20-year-old, walked into the classroom and opened fire. It is very likely that a bullet fragment from one of the shots that killed Miss Soto grazed the side of Jesse’s head, yet didn’t take him down.

“Jesse stayed by his teacher even when the armed gunman, a mentally disturbed 20-year-old, walked into the classroom and opened fire.  It is very likely that a bullet fragment from one of the shots that killed Miss Soto grazed the side of Jesse’s head, yet didn’t take him down.
The kids who survived reported that even with this head wound, Jesse stayed on his feet and faced the gunman.  When something happened to the shooter’s gun and he was forced to stop for a moment, either to fix it or to reload, Jesse yelled to his classmates to run as fast as they could, to run now!  And they did.”
On December 14, 2012 Jesse Lewis was a six-year-old at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “Nine terrified first graders managed to run from the classroom to safety as the gunman took aim at Jesse.  When the first responders arrived they found Jesse’s body on the floor next to the body of Miss Soto.”
In her book Nurturing Healing Love Scarlett Lewis, Jesse’s mother, describes her journey of grieving and healing following the horrific events of that day. She writes, “Grieving is a way into the dark forest where nothing is familiar, and you have to manage your way through this landscape having lost your compass…yet, you must go through this darkness to reach the other side, to healing and even a spiritual rebirth.  There is no other way out of the cocoon of grief but to break out.”
As each of the 26 families of the Sandy Hook victims dealt with their grief individually, they also banded together.  “The cost of membership in our group was so painfully high that I wish I could say we were the only ones – but we weren’t. And thankfully, those who had lived through similar nightmares and survived the same kind of senseless, violent tragedies reached out to offer us their comfort, encouragement, and advice.”
“One of the first things we did as a group was to have a conference call with parents who’d lost children in the Columbine high School massacre of 1999, the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, and the movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which happened just five months before Sandy Hook.”
Following the recent killing of 17 high school students and teachers in Parkland, Florida, Americans agree that something must be done to keep our children safe in their schools.  Scarlett Lewis is ahead of us.  As she was breaking out of her personal cocoon of grief, she decided to take action to address the cause of mass shootings - action that turns anger into love.
With much guidance from professionals in the field, Scarlett started the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation.  Its mission “is to ensure that every child has access to social and emotional learning in their classrooms and to help facilitate this teaching within their families, schools, and communities. To achieve that mission, The Choose Love Enrichment Program was developed, a free pre-K through twelfth grade program that teaches educators and their students how to choose love in any circumstance and helps them become connected, resilient, and empowered individuals.”
“To date, the Choose Love Enrichment Program has been downloaded by more than 2,100 educators in 48 states and 30 different countries who collectively reach close to 200,000 students daily.” (Newtown Bee, 12-15-17) The program has been awarded a $600,000 grant for 2018-2021 from the Warren Buffet NoVo Foundation.
With each mass shooting we search for the cause and find it rooted in loneliness and anger.  The Choose Love Enrichment Program is empowering young people to turn anger into love and acceptance instead of violence.

Susanna Smith writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.