March 29th, 2001
The two latest school shootings underscore how important our efforts to reduce youth gun violence continue to be.
New e-mail address
My new e-mail address is . My previous provider was bought out by a larger company, and there was no way to save the old address. If any of you have tried to e-mail me since the changeover, I hope that you have gotten a return message with the new address.
Date for this year's Day of National Concern about Young People and Gun Violence
As in previous years, it makes sense to keep the date for the Day of National Concern within National School Safety Week. This also allows our date to remain within the Y's Week Without Violence. The confluence of dates is helpful for those communities that participate in all of these initiatives.
Therefore, next October's Day of National Concern about Young People and Gun Violence will take place on October 17, the same date as last year's.
I apologize for not yet having the changes plugged into the website. Our wonderful website manager has been traveling in India but will be back soon.
Pledge news update
The Student Pledge and the NBA: new possibilities
I may have mentioned in my last newsletter of 2000 that the Minnesota Timberwolves were interested in encouraging other NBA teams to promote the Student Pledge in their communities through posters, billboards, and exhibition games. I'm very happy to report that they have already drafted a letter that will go to every NBA franchise, and it will be going out shortly.
If you have an NBA team in your area, please let me know if you are willing to be the local Pledge link with that NBA team, so that there can be a coordinated campaign within your community. I am sure that the first question that any interested NBA team will have for the Timberwolves is "Whom can we work with locally?"
New CD-rom about the Student Pledge
We now have a five-minute cd-rom presentation about the Student Pledge. The visual images and text have been synchronized with the VOW Project's powerful and moving song, "Join Hands." (Previous newsletters and the Pledge website have referred you to the VOW Project's website: www.iVOW.net It has wonderful suggestions about using the arts as a vehicle for discussing alternatives to violence.)
It will be very inexpensive to reproduce these cds, but at the moment I don't have funding for replicating them. Let me know if you would like one to use as a means of introducing people to the Student Pledge because I will continue to work on identifying funding.
Identifying student leaders in each state
Each year, more and more leadership/ownership of the Student Pledge has been taken by young people themselves. The National Association of Student Councils has actively encouraged this involvement from their student leadership network, and we continue in a partnership relationship with them. Other national groups have assured us that they are encouraging their youth networks to become involved as well.
Joey Johnson, who became North Carolina Pledge coordinator in 1999 as a senior in high school, is taking a semester off of college this term. Joey is working almost full-time to expand the youth leadership network for the Pledge. We believe that we will soon have a list of young people who can work with many of you in your state and local efforts.
Last week, in a report that I missed, the Today Show apparently featured an author who has written a book about the best places for students to take shelter if someone should open fire in a school. Besides my initial "Have we really come to this?" response, I also wished that they had balanced that report with the story of all of the millions of students who are saying that they want to deal with the issue "upstream" by committing themselves to a prevention campaign stressing their own active stand against gun violence.
The spring is a very good time to approach your city's school system with a request for their involvement in next fall's Day of National Concern and the Student Pledge Against Gun Violence. Whether you talk to superintendents, principals, school board members, teachers, PTA leaders, or Student Council members and advisors, be sure to remind them that their national associations strongly support this initiative. Take the VOW Project's curriculum ideas with you so that teachers can begin thinking now of how to weave the themes of the Student Pledge into their classes, starting in the fall.
Let us know how we can support your efforts, and do let us know of any state or local Pledge activities in your area so that we can try to get people in the same area working together. The Student Pledge and Day of Concern give you wonderful opportunities for partnerships.
With all best wishes and on-going thanks for your work on behalf of young people,
Mary Lewis Grow