by Cindy Pena
The Ana Grace Project at Central Connecticut is reaching the hearts of students, faculty and community members by spreading the message “Love Wins,” a slogan that Nelba Márquez-Greene created for her daughter, Ana Grace, who passed away in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Márquez-Greene, who was an adjunct professor at Central when the tragedy occurred, founded the organization that came to CCSU last year. As a result, a partnership with the CCSU community to continue to pursue their mission of “love, community and connection” was developed.
“The Ana Grace Project was born as a response to the tragedy that took her life in Sandy Hook, CT on 12/14/12,” the Ana Grace Project website states. “‘Love Wins’ is the slogan adopted by her family immediately after the tragedy. It has been a rallying cry. The Ana Grace Project is dedicated to promoting love, community and connection for every child and family through three lead initiatives: partner schools, professional development and music and arts.”
The Ana Grace Project’s impact on campus and on the community has been tremendous. At CCSU, several community events in April, which is marked as “Love Wins Month,” aim to promote their mission further. Events like the “Kick-Off to Love Wins Month” and Ana’s birthday, along with “Love Wins Because She Persisted: An Afternoon with Chelsea Clinton,” will be hosted on campus this month.
Further, some of their community initiatives include a scholarship for female seniors attending Hartford Public High School, LOVE WINS School Based Clinical Services, professional development conferences and much more.
Through these initiatives and events, the ultimate goal is to create a positive environment of love and compassion for the community, children and their families.
“In order for a child to perform successfully in school, the child must experience safety, a sense of control, positive relationships and empathy,” the Ana Grace Project website states. “Our message is that love, community and connection can be powerful antidotes to trauma and the stigma associated with mental illness. Healing relationships, making connections and developing empathy drastically reduce episodes of violence and aggression both in school and in the community. We believe that love wins. It also saves lives.”
Seeing students, faculty and community members come together and support the Ana Grace Project is inspiring. It shows that not only is the CCSU community a family, but that, ultimately, “love wins.” The power of those two words can be felt on campus and in these events.
Through the Ana Grace Project, CCSU has become a better, safer and loving community—a community that I am proud to be a part of.