A recent grant will allow Jackson County Schools to implement a program to provide safety training for students, educators, and administrators in the county.

The Jackson County Commission and Jackson County Schools will receive $41,686 in grant funding for a Bureau of Justice Assistance STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program. This funding will provide training and education on preventing violence and effectively responding to related mental health crises.

The funding is part of $635,869 in grant funding from the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) to bolster school security, educate and train students and faculty, and support law enforcement officers and first responders who arrive on the scene of a school violence incident, according to Congressman Alex X. Mooney, West Virginia District 2.

According to superintendent of schools Blaine Hess, the county will partner with Sandy Hook Promise, a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut.

“We are happy to receive this grant, funded through the STOP School Violence Act, to supplement our ongoing efforts to keep all of our students and staff safe. Jackson County Schools places a high priority on safety, working closely law enforcement agencies and community partners, such as the We Care Committee, to enhance school safety and security,” Hess said.

Participants will learn how to identify, assess, intervene and get help for those exhibiting at-risk behaviors through programs called “Start With Hello,” “Say Something,” and “SOS Signs of Suicide.” This funding with help train over 2,300 students in four schools across the district.

“We are proud to work with Jackson County Schools to help keep all of its students safe by training them how to spot and report at-risk behaviors before violence occurs. The funding available under the STOP School Violence Act will have a great impact as prevention programs ... are proven to help save lives,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and father of Daniel who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.

The “Start With Hello,” “Say Something,” and “SOS Signs of Suicide” programs are three of four programs under Sandy Hook Promise’s “Know the Signs” Programs.

“Start With Hello” and “Say Something” are programs that are geared toward students. “Start With Hello” trains students to be more socially inclusive and connected to one another, while “Say Something” trains students how to recognize signs, especially in social media, of an individual who may be a threat to themselves or others and how to say something to a trusted adult.

The “SOS Signs of Suicide” program teaches students, as well as educators and school administrators how to spot the warning signs of youth suicide and how to intervene before self-harm occurs.

To date, Sandy Hook Promise has trained over 3.5 million youth and adults in at least one of its “Know the Signs” programs in all 50 states and have helped avert multiple school shooting plots, numerous teen suicides, as well as other acts of violence and self-harm.

The STOP School Violence Act was introduced in the House of Representatives before the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to build off of the research and lessons learned from Sandy Hook and other tragic shootings and scale proven, evidence-based early intervention programming to schools across the country to prevent future school shootings, suicides, and other forms of school violence.

It was passed and signed into law in March as part of the FY2018 omnibus funding bill. Sandy Hook Promise proudly worked with Republicans and Democrats to write and pass this legislation.

“Protecting our students is a priority for all parents, teachers, school professionals, and elected officials. This joint effort between the County Commissions, Sheriff’s Offices and Boards of Education, is a great example of leaders working together to move our counties forward. Students should feel safe while at school and I am grateful that I was able to help three county school systems in my Congressional District receive funding,” said Congressman Alex X. Mooney, WV District 2.

Sandy Hook Promise is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. SHP’s mission is to prevent gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) before it happens by educating and mobilizing youth and adults to identify, intervene and get help for at-risk individuals.

SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible program and policy solutions that address the “human-side” of gun violence by preventing individuals from ever getting to the point of picking up a firearm to hurt themselves or others. Our words, actions, and impact nationwide are intended to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation.