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Hands of Hope for Sandy Hook


hands of hopeAs part of their efforts to reduce gun violence, Gabby Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman wounded in the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, AZ, and Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old lost his life at the Sandy Hook shooting, have authored the “Hands of Hope for Sandy Hook” lesson for American children to think critically about responding to tragedies like Newtown and working to prevent them from happening in the future.

Nearly a year has passed since 20 children and six educators lost their lives in the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.

Starting on November 14th, the lesson will link school across the country by having students trace their hands and inscribe them with sentences beginning with, “I hope…” Student hands will be posted on, a lesson exchange for K-12 classrooms, and will be assembled into a digital collage for the world to see on December 14th, the anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Participating schools are being asked to display these hands as a symbol of hope in their classrooms, hallways, and auditoriums.

Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, CA, whose own Jessica Lura is co-authoring the lesson with Giffords and Hockley, is the flagship school for this lesson.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage and new ideas,” said Giffords. “We are proud to bring students together to honor the lives lost in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, and encourage them to envision an America that is both free and safe.”

“Nearly one year after my six-year old son Dylan and nineteen of his classmates lost their lives, it is important for students not only to remember the tragedy that occurred in Newtown that day, but also to express their hopes for safer schools and communities,” said Hockley, founding member of Sandy Hook Promise. “Our students deserve to learn and grow in an environment free of the threats that many American children sadly face.”

This lesson is in keeping with the mission of Sandy Hook Promise: to ensure this tragedy does not stand as just another in our country’s history, but instead be remembered as the start of a new day, a transformation.

School leaders and/or teachers who are interested in getting their classrooms involved in the “Hands of Hope for Sandy Hook” lesson can visit

Classroom Connection:

Use the five-step Common Core State Standards-based Hands of Hope lesson plan to engage students in reading and writing activities related to the tragedies that occurred in Connecticut and Arizona as well as the prevention of violence in our schools and communities.

Participating classrooms/schools also have the opportunity to be part of a nationwide digital collage on December 14, the one year anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown.

Most importantly, besides playing an active role role in promoting the message of hope for a safer and violent-free America, this lesson provides teachers with the chance to build positive character traits such as empathy, understanding and tolerance—attributes all citizens of this world could really use!

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