‘Contagious enthusiasm’: Sandy Hook Promise touts 13 teenagers serving on its youth advisory board

Photo of Rob Ryser

NEWTOWN — A Milford high school junior is among 13 teenagers from across the United States named to the National Youth Advisory Board of the homegrown nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise.

“Instead of waiting for the future to make a change, I can make a change right now,” said Aislinn Burns of Jonathan Law High School in a prepared statement. “I do have a voice and … I have the ability to make a difference if I use it.”

Burns and her peers from 10 other states will advise leaders of Sandy Hook Promise about national campaigns, and be advocates for policy changes, including testifying before Congress.

“These exceptional teen leaders are actively creating safer and more inclusive environments in their schools, their communities, and beyond,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, whose son was among the 26 first-graders and educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. “They embody what Sandy Hook Promise is all about, empowering students to prevent violence and advocate for lasting cultural change that can and will save lives.”

The 13 youths who will serve during the 2021-22 school year, are members in their respective states of Students Against Violence Everywhere Promise Clubs — youth groups overseen by Sandy Hook Promise that encourage youth “to take an active role in increasing school safety and preventing different forms of violence in schools and communities.”

Burns and her peers on the youth advisory board will plan monthly activities and national call-to-action week campaigns for SAVE Promise Clubs, and help plan the annual National SAVE Promise Club Youth Summit in April.

Sandy Hook Promise, which has become one of the nation’s premier nonprofits of its kind, is known for its Know the Signs programs that teach youth and adults how to recognize red flag behavior and intervene.

The nonprofit is also often in the headlines for its provoking PSAs. In May, for example, Sandy Hook Promise launched a trio of PSAs about the “powder keg of turmoil threatening the lives and well-being of kids right now.”

A California high school senior named to the nonprofit’s 2021-22 youth advisory board said peers were in a unique position to help.

“I have always been a large believer in the idea that you can’t hurt someone you know,” said Dyuthi Kumar of California High School in San Ramon, California, in a prepared statement. “Once you see someone’s humanity and worth, I like to believe that it would be difficult to follow through on harmful actions.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342