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The morning of December 14th, 2012, my world was shattered, forever changed. An armed attacker broke into my daughter’s school. He took my daughter’s life and the lives of many other children and educators that day.

Like so many others in our little community, I was instantly devastated. The actions of one man had changed my life forever. I had no idea how to move forward or make sense of anything anymore. Yet, two days later, I would speak for the first time to a person who would again change my life forever, Michele Gay, Josephine’s mother.

Our daughters, sweet friends in this life, lovers of all things girly and fancy, had left this world for the next–together. Michele understood my pain and sorrow–and my desire to make meaning of it, to use this pain for a purpose. Together we made a choice. We chose to be inspired by our daughters. We would let them lead the way.

We focused on the world they shared together, the place where they made friends, shared laughter and learned together –school. This place was so special to our children and our families. It was the heart of our community. In honor
of our girls, we decided to help others protect this special place in their own communities. We made it our mission to ensure that every school is the safe, warm, welcoming place that every child deserves.

Together we created Safe and Sound Schools. With the help of an ever-growing, nationwide community of dedicated parents, educators, law enforcement, community members, and safety, emergency & mental health professionals, we have been able to create something to make our daughters proud.  Something that over the last four years has helped the communities close to us and all over the country. Together we have created a change that is working, inspiring others to work hard and work together for the safety of schools. We are honored to share the inspiration and spirit of our daughters to help other communities, and honored again and again to see this inspiration bring positive change to so many school communities.

On this fourth anniversary of our tragic loss, we choose again–to remember our daughters and their friends & beloved educators for the positive forces they were and continue to be. We marvel at the inspiring work of so many, work that makes our children and our schools safer.

There is much work to do, but we will never stop or give up.  We invite you to join us in remembering our daughters and carrying on their legacy. A legacy of helping others, connecting with people, working hard, and doing better–together.  

We thank you for your support of our families and our mission for Safe and Sound Schools.

#CelebrateEmilie #CelebrateJoey 

– Alissa Parker

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Tomorrow it will be three years since our daughters’ deaths at Sandy Hook School. Three years since Emilie, Joey, eighteen of their classmates, and six of their teachers, were killed. Three years since our lives, and countless others, were forever changed.

An intruder shot out a window beside the front door of our school; and stepped through, intent on destroying us all. In many ways, he succeeded.

Yet, here we stand—with so many others beside us. Family, friends, community members, survivors and families who also lost loved ones that day. We have been joined by others—across the country and throughout the world—in support of one another and in search of a better way.

We lost our daughters that day. Yet, somehow, we continue to find them every day—in the memories our families share, in the healing relationships we’ve formed, and in our mission to empower a nation of safer school communities. Our children light the way.

What started as a small group, gathered around the Parker family’s kitchen table, has grown into a national network of stakeholders: school communities and organizations, parents, students, educators, and professionals in the fields of mental health, law enforcement, safety, security, and fire safety—all working together to make schools safer. Our practical tools, resources, and programs are making their way to school communities across the country, guiding administrators, educators and parents as they rethink school safety.

Our children are making a difference.

We look with pride upon the work they have inspired at Safe & Sound Schools. We look forward to sharing much more in the New Year.

We remember our children today, tomorrow, and every day—as we work in their honor for a nation of safer schools. They continue to guide us, teach us, and inspire us. We are grateful that they are loved, honored, and remembered by so many.

Thank you for opening your hearts to our families and our mission—and for your continued thoughts and prayers. Together, we can light the way.

Alissa and Michele

Alissa Parker, Co-Founder & Director, Safe and Sound: A Sandy Hook Initiative
Michele Gay, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Safe and Sound: A Sandy Hook Initiative