Rep. Karen Boback (Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) met recently with Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund, who wanted to acknowledge her work to create a new School Mental Health Initiative for Pennsylvania’s public schools.
Barden’s 7-year-old son, Daniel, was one of the 26 victims of the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., nearly 10 years ago. His nonprofit organization works to advance legislation that promotes gun safety, youth mental health and violence prevention training.
“So at the Sandy Hook Promise, we have long been on a mission, plain and simple, to prevent other families from having to endure the pain of losing a loved one to preventable violence,” Barden said. “We know that evidence-based violence prevention programs are effective. We have a growing database of interventions, where school shootings have been prevented, along with other acts of violence such as suicides, so we know that this works.”
Boback was the prime sponsor of House Bill 540, a proposal included in the 2022-23 state budget that provides $100 million for the initiative.
“The School Mental Health Initiative is modeled after ideas developed by Mark’s organization, and I am proud of my role in bringing it to our schools,” said Boback. “Under the new program, every school district in the Commonwealth will receive a grant of at least $100,000 to address the mental health needs of students.”
“When we can partner with champions and leaders like Rep. Boback to get this legislation done, it is from the bottom of my heart that I come here and offer my deepest appreciation,” added Barden.