NEW BRITAIN – On the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, students, faculty and staff at Central Connecticut State University showed support for their colleague Nelba Márquez-Greene, who lost her daughter, Ana Grace, on that day.
With the sun shining and a light dusting of snow on the ground Thursday, hundreds of people donned purple “Love Wins” hats and formed a heart outside Davidson Hall for Nelba Márquez-Greene, her husband Jimmy Greene and their son Isaiah.
“I felt like it was important for us, as the Central family, to do something to let Nelba, Jimmy and Isaiah know we were thinking of them – today especially,” said Courtney McDavid, executive assistant to the president at CCSU. “We wanted to let them know that they’re in our hearts today.”
Ana Grace Márquez-Greene was one of 20 students and six faculty members killed in the Sandy Hook shooting five years ago. Since her daughter’s death, Nelba Márquez-Greene has committed herself to making sure “Love Wins.”
In 2013, The Ana Grace Project was founded with the mission of promoting love, community and connection. Since its formation, The Ana Grace Project – with its “Love Wins” motto – has been a staple in the New Britain school district.
Last February, Nelba Márquez-Greene brought her “Love Wins” campaign to Chamberlain Elementary School where she helped fourth-graders connect with one another and build friendships. Along with Chamberlain, Nelba Márquez-Greene has brought “Love Wins” to other elementary schools in the area.
The organization also annually hosts a “Love Wins: Finish the Race” initiative. Through the program, hundreds of New Britain students spend a day on campus with CCSU student volunteers for a taste of the college experience. Earlier this year, more than 400 New Britain students went to CCSU as part of the program.
In July, The Ana Grace Project officially relocated its base of operations to CCSU.
As part of the partnership between The Ana Grace project and the school, Nelba Márquez-Greene worked with the School of Education & Professional Studies at CCSU to establish a Center for Social & Emotional Learning. This center provides education, training, and research to students on campus and the surrounding region.
The Ana Grace Project also helps train students in CCSU’s Marriage & Family Therapy, Psychology, and Counseling programs in the use of social-emotional curriculum in the classroom.
CCSU has dedicated December as “Love Wins” month on campus with various events. Every Friday, the university community is asked to wear purple, Ana Grace’s favorite color.
“We have benefitted greatly by having The Ana Grace Project here at Central, and having Nelba here,” said Chris Galligan, vice president for institutional advancement at CCSU. “She’s just amazing to be around.”
“She’s infectious,” McDavid added.
Galligan referenced Nelba Márquez-Greene’s popularity and support on campus.
“I think there’s only one person that could pull students, coaches, faculty, staff, administrators – everybody you had out there today represented every facet of this university,” Galligan said.
The Ana Grace Project is just one of many organizations set up by families in honor loved ones that were killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. For more information on The Ana Grace project and others like it, go to www.mysandyhookfamily.org .
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Skyler Frazer on Twitter @SFrazerNBH