Choose Love Day in Darien: Summer Nights fund-raiser upcoming at Tilley Pond

Darien native Scarlett Lewis lost her six-year-old son, Jesse, the tragic school shooting in Sandy Hook. Since then, she has created a movement in his memory, ‘Choose Love.’ Choose Love Day in Darien is Friday, Aug. 31, marked by a benefit Friday night.

 The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement is teaming up with Darien Summer Nights for a special benefit concert, featuring The Spadtastics on Aug. 31 at Tilley Pond Park from 6-10 p.m.

After Darien native, Scarlett Lewis’ 6 year-old son was killed in his first grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, her friends from Darien High School rallied around to support her. Nearly six years later, they’re even more committed to Being Part of the Solution and spreading the Choose Love message.

Lewis spoke about the importance of the movement, saying, “After the tragedy, my friends from Darien rallied and supported me. I told them my vision for a solution to the issues that resulted in the death of my son, I explained what I had researched, what I wanted to do to be part of the solution. They agreed with me that ‘Social and Emotional Learning’ — teaching kids how to have healthy and positive relationships, deep and meaningful connections, skills and tools for resilience, and how to manage their emotions and conflict — was important and came together in support of my mission.”

Lewis continued, “Five and a half years later, they are still supporting a mission that we started together and is now positively impacting more than 1.3 million children across the globe, in every state and over 60 countries, and scientifically proven to reduce the issues we’re experiencing in our schools as well as society including bullying, substance abuse, mental illness and violence.”

She added, “Being Part of the Solution means taking our personal power back. It means accepting responsibility for what’s happening in our lives, and in our world, and to our children, and coming together to be part of the solution, individually and collectively. Being Part of the Solution means ‘choosing love’ in every situation, especially in the one we find ourselves in today!”

Jesse Lewis, a victim of the 2012 Newtown school shooting, with his mother Scarlett.

Through Lewis’ hard work behind the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, Aug. 31 will be Jesse Lewis Choose Love Day. Darien First Selectman, Jayme Stevenson said, “As a mother of five children, I can’t imagine what Scarlet and her family have had to endure.  What I do know is that helping our children strengthen their social and emotional resilience will be proven to be one of the most powerful ways to ensure we have a society of healthy, compassionate and empathetic people. That is why I’m officially proclaiming Aug. 31 — Darien Chooses Love Day. ”

On the importance of Choose Love Day, Lewis said, “I would love for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Day to be an opportunity for everyone to come together to be part of the solution to the issues that have continued to plague our schools and society and statistically continue to increase. Understanding you can’t fix the problem with the same thinking, I envision everyone contributing to a solution that has decades of research behind it to effectively reduce and prevent suffering before it begins.”

Event organizer Laura Emerson added, “The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Organization is most grateful to Darien Summer Nights. The heart of our town continues to beat because of our wonderful community and the support we give to each other.”

“This event will create a sense of connectedness by coming together for a common purpose. To Choose Love. By choosing love we learn personal responsibility and the understanding that we always have a choice in how we respond. We realize that we can choose to love in any circumstance. It will be an evening of great music, good food , and inspiration,” Emerson said.

The fund-raiser also includes live music by Free Flow and special guest, Doug AllenPlus, a photo booth, face painting, food trucks and Choose Love merchandise. 

David Genovese, CEO of Baywater Properties, who, together with PG Properties, is underwriting this event, said, “We are in awe of the way in which Scarlett has transformed her tragedy into such a positive global platform in Jesse’s honor. As a community, we need to Be Part of the Solution to protect our children and teach them to be connected, compassionate and resilient. They are the future.”

The Jesse Lewis Choose Movement is a charitable organization with a mission to ensure that every child has access to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).  “We do this in honor of Jesse and to spread the message he left on his family’s chalkboard – Nurturing, Healing Love.”

The Choose Love Enrichment program is a pre-K-12th grade SEL curriculum that teaches kids how to get along, how to have healthy and positive relationships, deep and meaningful connections, skills and tools for resilience, emotional management, conflict resolution and responsible decision-making, among other qualities.  Donations, grants and volunteers enable the Choose Love Enrichment Program to be offered to schools at no cost. If you can’t make it to the fundraiser, please make a donation on The Impact Vine: https://theimpactvine.org/nonprofit/jesse-lewis-choose-love-movement/

Scarlett Lewis then said, “I’m so grateful to the Genoveses, the Glassmeyers and everyone else who has worked tirelessly to make this event a successful fundraiser. I’ve dedicated my life to spreading awareness of the solution to the issues our children face today. I’m so grateful to my hometown for marking August 31 Darien Chooses Love Day. There’s no greater mission than focusing on whole child development and keeping our children safe. SEL = Safer schools.”