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Tampa Bay students spread kindness during 'Start With Hello' week

Tampa Bay students spread kindness during Start With Hello week WFTS MARY.png
Posted at 5:58 PM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 18:35:40-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.  — Students across the Tampa Bay area are taking part in an initiative to reach out to other people and simply say hello.

“It’s just crazy to see how much you have in common with people that you like would’ve never gone up to,” said senior Keegan Dunnam.

At Steinbrenner High School, Dunnam thinks she’s said hello to someone this week more times than she can count.

“You never know what will happen if you go up and say hello to someone and start a conversation,” said Dunnam.

Those hellos are part of Start With Hello week, a national call to action week created by the Sandy Hook Promise dedicated to making new social connections and creating a sense of belonging among students.

Angela Haskell, a teacher at Steinbrenner High School, has seen those interactions happen right in front of her eyes.

“A lot of them initially are kind of caught off guard, but then I always see them leave with a smile on their face,” said Haskell.

The initiative is also happening at other schools, all an effort to get students to branch out and make everyone feel welcome.

“You never know what anybody’s going through,” said senior Carter Haskell. “That’s just the whole purpose of this organization, just to create unity, bring people together, and show people that they matter.”

Activities so far during the week at Steinbrenner included using name tags and writing names on signs in the lunchroom. Teachers and students said it goes beyond just a five-letter greeting, reminding everyone a simple hello can go a long way.

“I just feel like everyone deserves to feel included. I feel like everyone deserves to have friends. Everyone deserves to feel like they want to be talked to,” said Dunnam.

Start With Hello week runs through Friday, September 23.