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Casino Night to Support School Gun Violence Prevention Program

Sep 23, 2019 10:53PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
What can we do to prevent gun violence in schools? One local group is trying to answer that question by raising funds for a Sandy Hook Promise gun violence prevention program to be implemented at Mira Costa High School.

The fundraiser will be a "Casino Night" to be held at Manhattan Beach Community Church on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. Casino night tickets are $45, which includes chips and refreshments. (Donations are also being accepted.)

Proceeds from the event will support program related costs for Mira Costa High School to implement a gun violence prevention program created by the nonprofit organization Sandy Hook Promise

The event came about after a series of heart-wrenching school shootings around the country, according to Reverend Mark Pettis of Manhattan Beach Community Church. A group of self-described "young dads" at the church asked themselves what they could do to prevent gun violence in the community. After doing some soul-searching and research, they came up with the idea of raising funds to help Mira Costa implement one of Sandy Hook Promise's programs. 

"Raising awareness, helping students get the tools they need to navigate this issue... This [casino night fundraiser] is one of the tangible ways we can make a difference," said Pettis. "We want to help in whatever way we can."

Pettis added that if the fundraiser and program are successful, the group would like to help expand the Sandy Hook Promise programs to other schools in Manhattan Beach and beyond.

Sandy Hook Promise has created a variety of programs that schools can implement, including:
  • Know the Signs Program - teaches students to recognize signs of people who are at risk of hurting themselves or others;
  • S.O.S. - Signs of Suicide Prevention Program - training for students and adults about warning signs and ways to intervene before violence or self harm occurs;
  • Say Something - training for students on how to recognize signs especially on social media, of an individual who may be a threat to themselves or others;
  • Safety Assessment and Intervention - training for schools and community organizations on how to identify, assess and respond to threatening behaviors before they escalate to violence;
  • Start With Hello - teaches children to be socially inclusive.

Mira Costa would choose which program or programs they want to implement, said Pettis. The school's H.E.A.R.T. Club (Helping Educate Acts of Respect Together), which has addressed bullying issues, would most likely carry out the program.

The Manhattan Beach Community Church, an inclusive Christian church, has a long history in the South Bay. It was founded in 1906 and originally located at 9th and Highland Ave. (now a private residence). The church moved to its current location on Peck Ave., just north of Mira Costa and just south of Pennekamp Elementary School, in 1963.

Sandy Hook Promise is a national non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. It aims to create a culture engaged in preventing shootings, violence, and other harmful acts in schools.

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