In 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut, claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 adults. In response to the tragedy, community members who had lost loved ones banded together to do something positive — something that would make a positive impact on the lives of communities, children, and families.
That’s when the Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) was born. A nonprofit organization dedicated to educating communities on protecting children from gun violence, it has already trained over 5 million young people and adults across the country.
Last week, Milpitas Community Educational Endowment (MCEE) Founder Robert Jung invited SHP’s Northern California School Outreach Coordinator Jillian Sequeira to Milpitas to speak about the organization’s mission and give a sample presentation showing what SHP representatives are currently presenting to schools.
The event was part of a series of Community Conversations which Jung hopes to continue hosting once a month at the San Jose City College Milpitas Extension, located on Escuela Blvd. right across from Milpitas High School.
Back in late 2017, MCEE began hosting a similar event in local churches called Sunday Conversations. The first topic was centered around the challenges faced by teenagers when defining success, with a focus on Asian cultures. After that, a couple of other Sunday Conversations were planned. The idea was to bring out people from the community and give them the opportunity to discuss topics that wouldn’t normally come up under other circumstances.
After months of dormancy, Jung has relaunched the events under the name Community Conversations. Whereas he held the first official Community Conversation last Spring, this year he hopes to put them on once a month, to both engage with and bring “food for thought” to the community.
“People were asking, ‘Is the school district safe?’ said Jung. “And what I mean by that is: What are the things that the school district is doing to make sure our schools are safe? And after the schools, that question grew into, ‘What about the community as a whole?'”
Last year, a Milpitas Table Talks event was held at the Community Center to discuss community and school safety. Jung took part in that meeting, but grew frustrated when he later realized that no tangible results had come from it.
“If I were to take a step back, nothing came out of it, other than having the talk,” said Jung. “It’s a good first step but even at that point, I was aware that we need to do something proactive. There was this underlying concern from various people in the community still asking, ‘What are we going to do about it?'”
Inspired by SHP’s proactive approach, whereby they take matters of educating schools and communities on eradicating gun violence into their own hands, Jung extended his invite to School Outreach Coordinator Sequiera.
The Milpitas Beat was one of the event’s sponsors, and was able to videotape it. You can watch the video below.
The next Community Conversation will happen on Thursday, March 28, at the Milpitas College Extension. Police Chief Armando Corpuz will be there to engage in a conversation on the state of Milpitas schools, as well as safety tips for parents. The event will go from 6pm to 8pm.