The Walt Disney Company will lend its support to the nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise as it expands its successful Start with Hello program, which promotes inclusion and combats the growing epidemic of social isolation among young adults. Disney will directly contribute to the development of a new curriculum and digital platform for grades K-5 that will reach 2.8 million youth and adults from 6,000 schools and youth organizations in its first three years, enabling Sandy Hook Promise to extend the reach of its celebrated program to the youngest students.
The Start With Hello program is part of the Newtown, Connecticut-based nonprofit’s mission to prevent gun violence and other forms of violence and victimization before they happen. Available to schools at no cost, the program empowers students to create an inclusive and connected community by reaching out to those who may be chronically isolated, marginalized or rejected to let them know that they are seen and valued. The values and mission that are promoted through the program are in keeping with Disney’s ongoing commitment to making lasting, positive change in communities and promoting the happiness and well-being of children and their families.
“We know that being a young student isn’t always easy. That’s why The Walt Disney Company is pleased to support the Start With Hello program to encourage young kids to take small but powerful actions to promote connectedness, encourage inclusive behavior and prevent kids from feeling isolated,” said Elissa Margolis, senior vice president, Enterprise Social Responsibility for The Walt Disney Company. “We are thrilled that our donation will go directly towards expanding this great program to reach young children during such formative years.”
Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan Hockley, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, said, “We are thrilled to be working with The Walt Disney Company to bring our Start With Hello programs to the youngest students across the country. We’ve had tremendous demand for Start With Hello training for elementary schools, and because of this donation, we are able to bring this new training to life. Elementary schools are the perfect setting for this training, which focuses on inclusion and looking out for one another. We believe that the earlier we can tackle social isolation and create connectivity among students, the more we will empower students to be upstanders in the future.”