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Social-Emotional Learning Through The Arts

Stand UP & Speak OUT is an empathy and connection through the arts initiative created by Jill Nesi, an Emmy nominated composer and theatrical writer from Madison, CT.  Jill has created award winning films and live productions with sustainable educational components with life-long lasting impacts that address bullying, the importance of Safe Gun Storage and Substance Abuse.  

There are multiple projects being developed right now by Stand UP & Speak OUT that address empathy, connection, inclusion, and kindness to counter bullying and to make a positive impact in people’s lives:

Stand UP,  the bully prevention musical short film comes with an educational guide available that give students opportunities to examine limiting and harmful behaviors and provides them with the tools to handle difficult situations. This package is available to all schools in the state of CT free of charge and will be available nationally as well.

This Seat is Free is an upcoming music video featuring a song written by Mike Song to honor his late son Ethan who was unintentionally shot and killed with an unsecured firearm in a friend’s home.   This song and video address the topic of bullying and how kindness should prevail if given the opportunity.  This Seat is Free, once complete, will join the Stand UP package and be made available free of charge to all schools in CT.

Live productions of the Stand UP & Speak OUT Musical Showcase will return this fall in theatres throughout the country and will be directed by Christopher Zullo .  These events will feature young, talented students showcasing inspiring songs and dialogue addressing topics such as bullying and how kindness, empathy, and acceptance can counteract poor behavior.  For more information click here.

We are assembling Stand UP the musical packages for schools and organizations that wish to host their own performances.  These packages include multiple elements: films, musical reader’s script, original music backtracks, lyrics, sheet music and educational guides.  The first package is now available for middle school aged children.  Teachers of students in grades 2 through 12 and organizations will use all or some of these elements in their classroom or for live stage performances.


Through SUSO, students are empowered to feel connected, empathetic, and resilient.  

SUSO is partnered with The Connecticut Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity and Opportunity and has 501c3 status.

Our Films

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Ethan Song

The True Story of the final days of Connecticut Teen Ethan Song.

A touching and moving lesson on preventable gun violence. 

Winner of Block Island Film Festival's coveted Social Awareness Award.

Click here to learn more and to view the film trailer.

Stand UP

Stand UP helps students understand both the causes and impacts of bullying, fosters self awareness and decision making skills, and challenges students to reflect on their own experiences.

Click here to learn more and to view the film trailer.

Finding Hope

Through the eyes of Hope, a 16 year old with a troubling and life threatening secret, we witness the tragedy surrounding the opioid crisis and the affects it causes with her mother and community.

Click here learn more and to view the film trailer.

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Ethan Song Film Festival awards and nominations 

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