NEWTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — Turning grief into purpose. That’s the mission of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement.
The non-profit was founded to honor Jesse Lewis, who was tragically taken at Sandy Hook, nine years ago.
News 8 spent the day with his mom, Scarlett, and got a look at the work she’s doing in his memory.
Scarlett split a sausage, egg, and cheese from Misty Vale Deli in Sandy Hook with her son Jesse on Tuesday.
“I got our favorite sandwich, your favorite sandwich,” Scarlett said. “I’m going to eat half and I’m going to leave half.”
It’s a stop they’d often make on the way to school and a tradition Scarlett has kept nine years since his death. Jesse was among the 20 students and 6 educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“He always looked at himself as a protector. He would protect us on the farm. He protected his classmates by saving nine of their lives,” Scarlett said.
On Tuesday, Scarlett invited News 8 along as she made stops to pause and reflect. His gravesite, the site of the memorial, and up to the entrance of the school were the stops, sharing how she’s turned tragedy into purpose.
“My son wrote a message on our kitchen chalkboard shortly before he died. He wrote three words: nurturing, healing, love. I knew that was the solution,” Scarlett said. “I realized it was my mission to take this message and spend the rest of my life trying to get it into schools, homes, and communities.”
Her non-profit, the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, is aimed at helping children, using that message Jesse left behind.
“It is our responsibility to give them the skills and tools they need to not only face those challenges, but grow through them, be strengthened by them, and then use what they learned to help others,” Scarlett said.
This programming has reached millions of people and spanned all 50 states. Many have joined in on the cause, during their part to help, including Liberty who is Choose Love’s first comfort dog.
“I was listening to a principal talk about Choose Love to his parents and I said, ‘that’s exactly what Liberty is all about.’ I reached out to the Choose Love organization, and we started a Choose Love ambassador program,” said Lenny O’Keefe, Community Service Aid.
Scarlett is now encouraging everyone in any community to get involved. She says that’s how change will happen.
“I know this is what would have saved my son’s life. There is no greater priority than the safety and well-being of our kids,” Scarlett said.
For more information about the Choose Love Movement, click here.