Sandy Hook shooting survivor shares her story to help others

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TRENTON -

A Sandy Hook mass-shooting survivor came to New Jersey on the sixth anniversary of the tragedy to share her experiences.

Former first-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis was hailed a hero after the massacre for keeping her students safe during the shooting. She crammed her 15 students and herself into a closet-sized bathroom, keeping them out of the line of fire.

Roig-DeBellis spoke in Trenton Friday during a summit on active shooter preparedness.

RELATED: Bomb threat empties Sandy Hook school on attack anniversary

“I decided it really felt like a moment where I wanted to share and I wanted to encourage others who might find themselves in darkness,” she said.

Although Roig-DeBellis is no longer in the classroom, she says that she still considers herself to be a teacher. She now gives lectures on survival and recovery after trauma. She says that she has grown to accept that there are many questions about the shooting that she may never have answered.

“I needed to focus my energy on questions that could be answered. And for me that was, how do I make sure this day doesn't define us? And how do we get our control back? And those really drove me to find renewed purpose,” she says. 

Roig-DeBellis started a social network for children called Classes 4 Classes. It connected students in different states in order to help them build understanding and empathy with each other. Roig-DeBellis says that after the Sandy Hook shooting, this may be what is needed the most.

Twenty children and six adults were killed in the shooting on Dec. 14 2012.

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