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Newtown, CT: Call for social-emotional learning/mindfulness to change student behavior

July 7, 2018, Norwalk (CT) News Times: Newtown nonprofit’s message embraced in New Hampshire https://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Newtown-nonprofit-s-message-embraced-in-New-13054944.php Newtown, CT Scarlett Lewis believes that the negative thinking at the heart of bullying, teenage substance abuse and school violence can be transformed by teaching kids how to choose love in any circumstance. The idea came to her after her 6-year-old son, Jesse, was massacred with 19 classmates and six educators at Sandy Hook School in 2012. “It occurred to me that this whole tragedy happened because of a negative thought in Adam Lanza’s head,” said Lewis, referring to the 20-year-old shooter. “Negative thoughts can be changed into loving thoughts.”… A key recommendation in a recent report by a statewide school safety task force is to implement an emotional development curriculum promoted by Lewis’ foundation, the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement. “New Hampshire will provide a backbone of support through Scarlett’s program,” said New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu in a prepared statement. “We are adding these proactive and preventative measures not only for violence, but for addiction, suicide, and the toxic anxiety that has plagued our school children for too long.” New Hampshire becomes the first state to embrace the curriculum, known as social and emotional learning, or SEL. It is a decades-old concept with a body of research behind it that Lewis has been promoting in school districts across the country for several years…. “Social and emotional learning is all about awareness and mindfulness,” Lewis said on Friday. “If you think about the thoughts that go through your head you realize, ‘I do have a lot of negative thoughts, and I do have a choice about what I think about.’” The goal of the program is not only to reduce self-destructive behavior in school but to promote better attendance, improved test scores, and higher graduation rates… By teaching students how to manage their emotions and make social connections, the program builds resilience students can use to overcome the root causes of red flag behavior in school, Lewis said….