ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Students at Azalea Elementary School were presented with the Award of Excellence from the Sandy Hook Promise organization Wednesday for their work to stop violence in schools through kindness and acceptance.
The award was for a four-minute video the students produced to showcase how they create a more inclusive environment.
Azalea Elementary School Principal Mike Rebman says he makes it a point to teach kids about the importance of inclusion now, when they're young, in hopes they'll carry it on through the rest of the education.
It's all in an effort to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook from happening again.
Their winning video included photos that highlight some of the work by students and staff this school year to help reduce social isolation, which they say can lead to violence in schools.
"It means everything. The Sandy Hook Promise organization, their promise is our promise," Principal Mike Rebman said.
The Sandy Hook Promise Organization, a non-profit started by family members of Sandy Hook victims, trains students and adults to know the signs of social isolation and the potential for violent behavior.
"We want students connected, not isolated, and through a genuine smile and starting with 'hello,' we can change the narrative for other kids and other people and that social and emotional development can last them a lifetime," Rebman said.
As part of the Sandy Hook Promise's Start with Hello program, students are encouraged to become a member of the Save Club which stands for Students Against Violence Everywhere. Members are trained on how to reach out and someone in need of connection.
If you see someone alone, reach out and help, starting with 'hello.'
"Sometimes in the morning we open up their car doors and say 'Have a nice day' which is kind of like our way of being like, 'Oh, you are going to do great today,'" 5th grader Katie Weaver said.
Members of the Save Club have the chance to attend the Save Promise Club National Youth Summit in North Ridgeville, Ohio on April 4.