Avielle Rose Richman was one of twenty-six children and educators tragically killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14th, 2012. Avielle’s parents, Jennifer and Jeremy, are infinitely heart broken, and like so many of you, want to bring about changes to stop a tragedy such as this from happening to any community — ever again.
The Avielle Foundation has been created to honor their loving daughter — along with all the others who have fallen victim to senseless violence — by truly understanding what leads someone to engage in such harmful behavior. We’re working closely with world leaders in two vital areas: Brain health research and community building.
Objective #1: Research – Understand the Underpinnings in the Brain That Lead to Violence
Too little is known in the field of brain health in regard to what drives violent behaviors. Clearly something is wrong with a person capable of such atrocities as mass murder. We seek a better understanding of the biological and environmental factors associated with the pathologies underlying these behaviors. Once a deeper understanding has been established, we can apply these insights to educate, not only healthcare providers, but the everyday citizen about how to identify the signs and symptoms of someone troubled and how to responsibly advocate for those at risk of violent behaviors. We can develop and put into practice innovative policies to facilitate appropriate preventative and interventional strategies such as counseling, education, and novel therapeutics.
Objective #2: Education – Knowledge is Power and Empowering
Jennifer and Jeremy instilled this open-minded, open-hearted philosophy in Avielle because they know a strong community is one where every member belongs and is a valuable contributor —regardless of ethnicity, beliefs, political views, lifestyle, or social ideologies. In such communities, individuals don’t feel ostracized, stigmatized, bullied, or alienated, and the propensity to act in desperate, destructive, or violent ways is diminished or eliminated. Citizenship in a community goes beyond fitting in — it comes with responsibility.
In all the Avielle Foundation does, it’s our belief that we must understand the biological and environmental factors that impact the brain, leading to malevolent behaviors. We are helping to build communities where all individuals are included, given a contributing role, and kept safe. Most importantly we are educating ourselves and others with our brain health findings in order to dispel fears of seeking help and to facilitate rational and effective treatment interventions. We feel that knowledge is not just power, it is empowering and have come up with the slogan “Violence: Understand it to end it.” We must take action to ensure what happened to Avielle does not happen again. Ultimately, this will be done by making the invisible visible.