Sandy Hook mother spreading word of ‘Choose Love’ movement

HARTFORD --  Scarlett Lewis is the founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, created after her 6-year-old was killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy.

“When my 6-year-old was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I decided that I wanted to be part of the solution, and this is it,” said Lewis.

The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement is a free social and emotional teaching program for students in grades pre-K through 12. It is in all 50 states and more than 55 countries.

“Social and emotional learning teaches kids how to have healthy relationships, deep and meaningful connections, skills and tools for resilience,” said Lewis.

The program has a basic, universal formula: teach courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion in action, and you’ll have chosen love.

“They learn to take their personal power back,” said Lewis. “You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can always choose how you respond, and you can always respond in a loving way,” said Lewis.

The program has received much positive praise from parents and educators alike. Middletown superintendent Dr. Michael Connor said the program has worked so well in the district, he plans to formally integrate it into the curriculum next year.

“Students are starting to think before reacting, being proactive instead of reactive,” said Conner. “But moreover, having that positive relationship, whether it be from teacher to student, student to teacher and students to students.”

“You really can’t teach children academics if they’re dealing with social and emotional problems,” said Terri Ayala, a mom from Middletown. “You really need to get to that first.”

Choose Love is also making its mark at the state capitol.

“This is the first time I’ve heard a solution that we can all get behind,” said State Senator Len Suzio, a Republican from Meriden. “I cannot think of a good reason why a single legislator would not support this.”