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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Newtown, CT. What do we do now?

Posted Thursday, December 27, 2012, at 2:35 PM

It has been almost two weeks since the mass killing of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary school. It is surreal. The whole event is surreal.

I can only imagine the pain and trauma the families of these victims feel. The unimaginable has occurred and their lives will never be the same.

My heart also goes out to the first responders. You will never want to know what they saw when they walked into that school building. They too will never be the same.

So as we come upon the two week anniversary of this horrific event I feel compelled to ask each of us how will we respond? How do we make something positive of something so terrible? Will we forget about Sandy Hook? Have we already done so? If not, what should we do? Do we send money, cards,or flowers? While all of those are caring responses, is that all we can do?

It is my proposition that we can do more. We can begin by making sure every child, EVERY CHILD, in our community is connected to multiple healthy adults. Kids who are alone and isolated, bullied, made to feel different or truly are different due to health or mental health reasons, need to be wanted as well. It is hard to know how to support kids, especially those who are outliers. But, we have way too many examples of these types of killings where the killer(s) is a person who lived on the fringes. We cannot afford any longer to look the other way, or hope someone else will take care of this person, or rely on the overburdened, short staffed formal system to respond. It oversimplifies things to say "it takes a village" but it does.

What if every community in this nation had a "Rotary Club" type model that consisted of 20 kids with 6 adults that "sponsored" those kids and met weekly with them? The group would focus on activities that were age appropriate and helped build kids up. This model could be set up in every public and private and home school situation, so that every child had six sets of eyes and ears watching over them. No child would fall through the cracks and every child would have multiple adults looking out for them. The adults would be screened and trained to work with kids but any adult could participate. So what if? So what if this type of model were implemented? It wouldn't cost that much, just the donation of time of the adults. I bet the cost savings to the formal system would be drastically reduced, but when a kid needed help the system would be there for them. We could identify problems early and get kids and families the help they need before situations escalated out of control.

So as the community of Newtown continues to reel from the events of December 14, 2012 we as a nation must look for ways to build healthy children and we must work together and think creatively to make that happen. There is nothing we cannot achieve as a nation, and isn't it worth the effort if it prevents another such tragedy?

Blessings for a wonderful 2013. May peace be upon us all.


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Be A Beacon
Tammy Gwaltney
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Tammy is the President/CEO of Beacon Health Center. A beacon, as defined by Webster, is a source of light or inspiration; it is also a person or thing that warns, guides or offers support, as per yourdictionary.com. Through their work providing primary health and mental health care to southeast Missouri residents, the staff of Beacon strive every day to be a beacon for those they serve.
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