Fall is traditionally a time of transition. As we watch the leaves on the trees change color we find that transformation is all around us. We continue to struggle with the effects of a global pandemic while educators and students begin a new school year, and an important election looms.  We have all been forced outside our comfort zone by current events, but the silver lining is that we have moved into a place of growth, personally and also in the world. Today, we have a tremendous opportunity to define that growth and create the world we want to live in! 

We are all living, and a few of us are even writing, the autobiography of our life. We may delineate chapters as years or major events. We can’t always determine how those chapters start. I would never have chosen to have my six-year-old son murdered in his first grade classroom. We collectively would never have chosen a global pandemic. These chapters were started for us. But we can choose the ending by how we thoughtfully respond to these events. When we respond with love, we take our personal power back and this positive effect ripples out and makes the world a better place! 

What do we want in our lives? What is our ultimate goal? We want to flourish and have peace within ourselves and in our world. Peace takes effort and it begins with the individual. Ultimately it is a choice when we learn social and emotional intelligence. We are not born with these essential life skills, they must be taught. This includes how to have healthy relationships and meaningful connections, and how to manage emotions, be resilient and make responsible decisions. 

September 21 is United Nations International Day of Peace. This year’s theme is: “Shaping Peace Together.” The United Nations encourages people to celebrate by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of COVID-19 and to stand together with the UN against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred.  The opposite of peace is conflict, dissatisfaction, disturbance and gloom. Peace starts within ourselves by conscious choices that we make.

Peace is important to me, especially after my young son’s murder. I chose peace through love. The want and need to love and be loved is what connects us all as human beings regardless of real or perceived differences. Much of the chaos in the world stems from lack of love. My young son, Jesse, left a powerful message on our kitchen chalkboard shortly before he died: ‘Norturing Helinn Love’ (Nurturing Healing Love).The words were phonetically spelled because he was in first grade and just learning to write, but the meaning to me was clear. If his shooter had been able to give and receive ‘nurturing healing love’ the tragedy would never have happened. Those three words are in the definition of compassion across all cultures. Love is synonymous with peace. Both are a choice when we are socially and emotionally intelligent.

Once again, we are honored to participate in Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation’s #BeKind21 challenge that encourages people to build a habit of kindness and be committed to creating a kinder, braver, and more just world in 2020 and beyond. Join us in this endeavor, there’s power in numbers. 

In addition, the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement is committed to fostering social and emotional intelligence worldwide in our children and adults to cultivate peace. We launched a new school-based program called Choosing Love in Our Brave New World. This program is trauma-informed and infused with social and emotional wellness to meet educators and their students where they are when they return to school this fall. The goal is to teach skills and tools to bring everyone back to baseline where they can learn a powerful formula that can lead them to choosing love and flourishing in their lives.  

Love and peace are choices that we make every day. Choosing love benefits you and everyone around you. Through the ripple effect it radiates throughout the world. We have a unique opportunity right now to create the world we want to live in. Famous anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” You are that thoughtful citizen, and together we can create a world where we stand together in harmony and choose love and peace over anger and fear.


  • Scarlett Lewis

    Chief Movement Officer

    Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement

    Scarlett Lewis founded the nonprofit Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement after her son was murdered during the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy in December 2012. Shortly after his death, Scarlett decided to be part of the solution to the issues that we're seeing in our society -- and that also caused the tragedy -- and turned it into an opportunity to build a culture of love, resilience, and forgiveness into our communities at a time when it is needed the most. Scarlett created Choose Love and became an advocate for social and emotional learning (SEL) and character development that teaches children how to manage their emotions, feel connected, and have healthy, meaningful relationships. Choose Love is a no cost, comprehensive, lifespan, next generation SEL character development program that teaches children and adults how to thoughtfully respond with love in any situation by using the Choose Love Formula (Courage + Gratitude + Forgiveness + Compassion-in-Action), and teaches children how to handle adversity, have courageous conversations, and to respond with love. Choose Love has been downloaded in all 50 states and 100 countries, reaching over 1.9 million children.  Choose Love extends beyond the classroom through additional no cost programs, including Choose Love at Home, Choose Love for Communities, and Champions Choose Love for young athletes. In direct response to COVID-19, Choose Love created numerous free resources to help children and adults deal with the stress and anxiety of this uncertain time.  Also, to help support educators and students as they navigate the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Choose Love created a free social-emotional wellness program, “Choosing Love in Our Brave New World.” This re-entry unit was designed to help transition students back to a new normal of education whether it’s in class or distance learning with particular awareness of the current events and environment, and fosters the development of a growth mindset and perseverance. Lessons incorporate trauma-sensitive, healing-centered language and practices which are based on the latest neuroscience and post-traumatic growth research. Scarlett has traveled extensively throughout the United States to share her inspiring and empowering story and her far-reaching programs. Currently, she is conducting numerous virtual presentations to spread her mission. Scarlett has spoken at multiple national conferences including National Forum on Character; SXSW EDU; ASCD Empower; Music City SEL conference in Nashville; and presented at the TedX Fayetteville. Scarlett and the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement has been featured in the New York Times; BBC; Fox News; CBS News; Today Show; The Guardian; and many regional papers and has been featured in high-profile magazines, including Fortune; Strive; and the Huffington Post. She has a podcast speaking about the character traits that comprise the Choose Love Formula and how the formula can be used in any circumstance to promote self-empowerment; resilience, connection; and optimism. Scarlett is also a frequent contributor to other podcasts. Visit www.ChooseLoveMovement.org.