By Alison Tobin ’18
On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Sandy Hook Promise Organization Managing Director and spokesperson Mark Barden came to Merrimack for a lecture event.
On Dec. 14, 2012, tragedy struck Newtown, Connecticut in the form of a school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. A shooter who entered the school killed twenty children between the ages of six and seven, as well as six staff members.
As a response, the Sandy Hook Promise Organization was developed with the mission to “prevent gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide, and accidental discharge so that no other parent experiences the senseless, horrific loss of their child.”
Barden lost his son Daniel in the Sandy Hook tragedy. He strives to bring people together to find solutions to prevent tragedies like this in the future. The organization believes there are more issues that surround these tragedies other than gun violence. He spoke about this at the event, as well as personal stories of his beloved son Daniel.
The idea of this event came to Honors Program senior student Molly Malinowski. She heard about the organization from a professor she had last year.
“As a pre-service elementary education teacher, I was very intrigued into the mission and goals of this organization,” said Malinowski. She researched the organization and found that they do lecture events and decided this would be a great event for Merrimack.
“I think all people should be aware of the reality of school violence at this point in time and it is an uncomfortable subject to talk about, but it is so vitally necessary.”
Malinowski was forming her honors senior capstone as well and decided to connect them and focus her capstone on gun violence in elementary schools and whether or not pre-service teachers are prepared to enter the profession with the media attention that tragic events have caused.
“I have become so passionate on educating others on this issue, and I am really excited to bring this opportunity to the college,” she said.
Audience members at the lecture enjoyed it. “It was great to hear how Sandy Hook Promise was focused on mental health and the culture that surrounds gun violence, rather than the gun laws that might not work and stir up much controversy in this country,” said senior Brianna Butler.
Honors Program Manager Lisa Cavallaro is proud of the efforts of Malinowski and others including Honors Student Council members that it took to make this event happen.
“This was a timely subject and we were happy to raise awareness of Sandy Hook Promise’s national initiative in gun violence protection programs,” said Cavallaro.
This event was open to all Merrimack College students, faculty, and staff. The Honors Program, in collaboration with the Psychology Club, Criminology Club, Education Club, Hamel Health and Counseling, and the Merrimack Police Department sponsored the event.