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Partnerships and Building Relationships / Storytellers

Let’s Create a Butterfly Effect to End Gun Violence

Let’s Create a Butterfly Effect to End Gun Violence

Dylan Hockley would flap his arms up and down whenever he was excited or happy. “It was truly joyful to watch because he was such a happy little boy. I asked him once why he flapped, and he told me, ‘because I’m a beautiful butterfly’,” recalled his mother, Nicole, in an interview before the first anniversary of the day Dylan was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.

At Dylan’s memorial service, Nicole said in her eulogy, “There’s a saying that if a butterfly flaps his wings in one place it can cause a hurricane halfway around the world. And I said that Dylan and all the others that died that day were now our butterflies and that they were going to drive change across the country, if not the world.”

Together, we can bring an end to gun violence. In February, Nicole told two survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, “I first started talking about change at Dylan’s funeral and I talked about how Dylan was a butterfly and everyone that we lost that day were butterflies and those small flaps were going to create change in our country. And now when I’m out and I see it in you guys, when I’m out at schools now and I look around, honestly all I see are butterflies, because you’re the ones that are going to make these changes happen.”

This year at the BOOST Conference Friday BreakFEST, we’ll be honoring the thousands of students, staff, and educators who have lost their lives to gun violence in schools with a butterfly release.

We hope all conference attendees will join us to lend their voices to the Sandy Hook Promise.

I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools, and communities.

Students from Southern California schools, many as young as five and six years old, have been nurturing caterpillars into butterflies for this memorial. Read on for insights, exclamations, and observations from our wonderful student partners.

Many thanks to Insect Lore for generously providing the Live Butterfly Kits that made this project and tribute possible.

And don’t miss Nicole Hockley’s workshop, Sandy Hook Promise: Know the Signs, at the 2018 BOOST Conference, Wednesday, May 3 at 10:30AM.

Butterfly Field Notes:

Day 1 – The students were so excited to learn that the caterpillars had arrived and even more excited to count them… 34! Each caterpillar was wished the best of luck on its journey to become a butterfly as we placed them in their individual homes for the next 10-12 days.

The students asked a lot of questions. Are the caterpillars all one big, happy family? How will they escape from the chrysalis? What temperature do they like? Are they monarch butterflies? Why are they so cute? What type of food will they need?

Day 2 – A bonus! The children were beside themselves welcoming our newest visitor. New caterpillar count… 35!

Day 4 – Students are excited to study the caterpillars’ transformation and growth. They chose to use magnifiers and color paddles for the observation and to draw their discoveries. Talks of butterflies and chrysalises are going on throughout the day!

Days 8/9 – Students are surprised to see different stages of growth and the life cycle. They observed young caterpillars, fuzzy spikey caterpillars, and two beginning to form a chrysalis. Documenting this growth is a popular free choice activity. Students are hungry for as many books as we can get that feature a butterfly or caterpillar!

Day 12 – Almost all of the caterpillars (32/35) are now in their beautiful chrysalis. One failed to thrive and students noted that this was a possibility. They discussed the possibility that some butterflies may not form or come out of their chrysalis, so we would need to wait to see how many butterflies we will have. Students were excited to see wiggling chrysalises as we moved them to their butterfly garden. Those that didn’t attach to the lid were placed on the “Hospital Floor” in their cups where we will keep watch in case they need us.

Student Observations:

“It looks like a letter J when hanging. It’s going to be a cocoon.” – Noah

“The caterpillar was big then it turned into a cocoon.” – Alison

“I see a cocoon hanging from the top. The other ones keep moving and one is still eating to get to the top!” – Ryden

“Is that his home? It looks like his home!” – Kamille



For BreakFEST, join us on Friday, May 4, on the East Lawn of the Palm Springs Convention Center for the BOOST Conference Butterfly Release. 

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BOOST Collaborative is a unique, purpose-driven organization committed to supporting those serving youth in the out-of-school time hours by providing quality professional development, opportunities for networking & partnerships, and leadership training. Together, we make a difference.

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