Cast of Beatlemania concert to support Choose Love Movement
“Nurturing Healing Love.”
These three words — written on a chalk board by 6-year-old Jesse Lewis days before he was murdered in Sandy Hook in 2012 — are at the core of a movement that has been embraced domestically and internationally.
The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement was founded by Jesse’s mother, Scarlett Lewis, who turned her grief into action, focusing on bringing social-emotional learning (SEL) and love to all individuals.
The Movement has created a no-cost downloadable Choose Love Enrichment Program that teaches children and adults how to choose love in any circumstance.
“I want to be for something — love,” Lewis said.
A fundraiser — a concert with the Cast of Beatlemania — will be held Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. at New Milford High School on Route 7 South to benefit the Movement. Doors will open at 7 p.m.
New Milford Public Schools implemented the enrichment program at the start of this school year.
Assistant Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo said New Milford “guidance professionals learned about the impact (the enrichment program) would have on social-emotional learning for all students from a training in a neighboring district.”
“So far, implementation is going well, “DiCorpo said. “Parents have shared positive messages with administration regarding the implementation of the lessons and are working with their child at home to support the learning in school.”
New Milford Mayor Pete Bass described the Movement as “a positive, impactful program that teaches love through their Choose Love enrichment programs.”
“Positive reinforcement benefits us all,” he said.
The program is geared for children of all ages, but is also for adults, and focuses on the character values of courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion in action.
It teaches participants how to connect and cope — to understand and manage emotions; set and achieve positive goals; feel and show empathy and compassion for others; establish and maintain positive relationships; and make responsible decisions.
“SEL has a positive benefit for all of us,” Lewis said, citing how the skills and tools it provides are useful throughout a lifetime.
“These skills aren’t innate within us,” she said. “We have to learn them.”
Losing Jesse “was such a terrible, tragic loss, but the beauty that’s come out of it is breathtaking — to have (people) embrace (the program) and take with them information for the rest of their lives,” said Lewis, who travels the world visiting schools and giving speaking engagements.
“When I’m at a school, I think (Jesse) knows,” Lewis said, her voice cracking. “I get so much love when I got into schools. They’re so appreciative.”
To date, the program has had more than 36,000 educator downloads and has been implemented in all 50 states, as well as in Washington, D.C. It has also been embraced around the world.
The movement estimates 1,566,011 students have been reached through the program since 2016, according to the organization’s website.
DiCorpo said the district’s Wellness Committee, comprised of community members, teachers and administrators at each level of the organization, “felt that the lessons would be a wonderful addition to our current guidance curriculum as well as help support students develop attributes that will help support them as individuals and to encourage others around them.”
“As a district we believe that educating the whole child is critical to student success in school and in life,” DiCorpo said. “This curriculum does a wonderful job of creating common language across the district for teachers, parents, students and administrators.”
Among the activities in which students might participate are mindful minutes during circle time in elementary school and discussions about key concepts during middle and high school.
“Every child is entitled to these life skills,” she said.
The program is not just for educators. A link for families features information that corresponds to what students are learning in school.
“The skills and tools are universal,” Lewis said.
Lewis conducted extensive research to create the program, meeting with professionals in many fields, including educators, doctors, scientists, professors, guidance counselors and others.
She learned evidence shows the number one indicator of a child’s success is SEL.
Lewis cited research that cites those equipped with SEL skills, tools and awareness have a reduced number of divorces, and have less substance abuse, loneliness, mental health issues behavioral issues and trauma.
SEL “gives control back to you,” Lewis said. “When you thoughtfully respond with love, you take the personal power back.”
“We can change the wiring (of our brains) by changing thoughts,” she related.
Lewis recognized other efforts to teach these skills have been implemented in the past. Often, though, they require extensive teacher training and money in school systems, and may not address the root cause.
“We must address the cause, otherwise you can’t find the solution,” she said.
Lewis described how the Movement addresses safety, too, and is listed in the first chapter of the Federal Safe School Commission Report.
External safety such as armed guards, locks and other measures are important safety measures, she said, but they don’t “address the cause.”
“SEL cultivates from the inside out,” she said,
Founded in 1980, the Cast of Beatlemania features former members who starred in the Broadway production and have performed in all 50 states and more than 20 foreign countries.
The musical and visual tribute band recreates the sights and sounds of the Beatles.
Three different costume changes coincide with the changing music and times.
Funds from the concert will support the Movement’s no-cost social and emotional learning programs to more school districts and communities throughout the country and the world.
Tickets are $35 per person or $30 per person with a group of 10 or more people.
To purchase tickets, visit https://www.event
70458692847 or call 860-355-9768.
For more information about the movement, visit jesselewischooselove.org.