On December 14, 2012, 6-year-old Jesse Lewis was heading off for a normal day of school. His mother, Scarlett Lewis, sent him off with no inkling that it would be the last time she’d ever see her son alive. Jesse, along with 25 others, were killed that day during a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It would later be known as one of the worst shootings in U.S. history. For a long time Scarlett was consumed by grief. But by looking at her son’s example, she was eventually able to find a way to forgive her son’s killer. Now motivated by her son’s memory, she seeks to create positive change, according to Today.
Next to her other son J.T., Jesse was the most precious thing in Scarlett’s life. She did not believe she could ever forgive Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman who heartlessly took Jesse’s life. But on the day of her son’s funeral, Scarlett noticed something that would change the way she looked at everything. On Jesse’s chalkboard was the the phrase “Nurturing healing love.”
She had no idea how it had gotten there and hadn’t realized that such a phrase was in her young son’s vocabulary. Nevertheless, she would cling on to those three words in the difficult years following, certain that Jesse had intended for her to read that message. “I knew immediately, if Adam Lanza had felt nurturing, healing love, this would not have happened,” she said.
“We give you our most precious asset…our children… there is no more important job than what you do. Thank you so much…” Scarlett Lewis, founder of Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement at the Hawaii School Counselor Conference pic.twitter.com/I6MEU3YZUF
— Pillars of Peace HI (@PillarsofPeace) February 8, 2019
Scarlett began to work with therapists and professors to figure out how she could get this message incorporated into schools everywhere in the form of social and emotional learning programs. The practice is intended to teach children from a young age how to recognize and handle their different emotions. The goal is to help students develop a sense of empathy for others and develop positive relationships with their peers.
Now called the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, this form of social and emotional learning has made its way into nearly half of the nation’s schools. Scarlett now finds comfort in knowing her son’s memory could help many others to find hope and resiliency.
“You don’t think you have that courage, but you do. We all have that courage Jesse showed on that day. It’s the courage to be kind and gentle, to do the right thing, to forgive, to step outside of our own pain. That’s the courage to choose love.”