Last week, Miami Trace Elementary School (MTES) held “Start with Hello” week to encourage students to interact with their peers in a fun and meaningful way.
According to information provided by MTES Director of Preschool and Assistant Principal (K-2) Nicole Fatica-Mavis, the program helps students take, “small but powerful actions to promote inclusion and to support students who are showing signs of loneliness or social isolation.”
The “Start with Hello” program is held nationwide in September.
“Loneliness is the overwhelming feeling of being left out and social isolation is not having frequent interactions with friends,” said Fatica-Mavis. “Young people who feel this way may pull away from society, struggle with learning and social development, or choose to hurt themselves or others. Due to COVID-19, all students can empathize with the feelings of isolation due to physical and social distancing. Start with Hello is an important social and emotional learning program to reintroduce students to the power of connecting and helping one another.”
This program culminated in a week full of celebration and inclusion starting on Monday, Sept. 21 with the “What is Start with Hello?” day where participants wore green. During this day, presentations and discussion were held in classrooms to help practice how to talk to a student another may not know and how to include them. On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the students dressed up as “Minions” and practiced saying hello in different languages to “Be comfortable saying hello.”
Wednesday, Sept. 23 emphasized that they are all a team and not to leave anyone out. Participants continued to look for those who were left out and started with a hello. They also learned other activities and icebreakers in the classrooms while dressed in their favorite Panther apparel.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, the students celebrated Emoji Day with stickers for all students. The description for Thursday says, “Simply smiling at someone can change their day. Remember to pay attention to other’s feelings. Notice when someone is feeling down, offer support or get help.”
Finally, Friday, Sept. 25 was “Mix it up Day,” where students wore mismatched clothing and teachers helped provide more activities to encourage students to mix it up and reach out to others who are lonely.
“‘Start With Hello’ week was fun-filled and full of purpose at MTES,” Fatica-Mavis said. “The ‘Start With Hello’ program brings attention to the growing epidemic of loneliness and social isolation—which often leads to bullying, violence, and depression—and teaches young people how to create a culture of inclusion and connection. Our staff and students actively engaged in a variety of hands-on activities throughout the week that focused on helping students feel connected and included.”
The information in this article was provided by MTES Director of Preschool and Assistant Principal (K-2) Nicole Fatica-Mavis.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.