Safer schools and communities
The March For Our Lives-event, March 2018
The impact of March For Our Lives
David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch grew up in a country where school shooting drills are a regular part of life. Nevertheless, living in affluent Parkland, Florida’s safest community, they thought it could never happen to them. But it did. On Wednesday February 14, 2018, a former student returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and shot 17 people dead, including 14 children.
Safe schools and communities for everyone
David, Emma, Jaclyn and Matt co-founded March For Our Lives together with their friends to demand peaceful solutions for safer schools and communities. Too many young Americans live in fear of violence every day.
Between January 2009 and May 2018, there have been 288 school shootings in the US. That is 57 times more than Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom combined.
Exposure to violence, whether direct or indirect, harms students’ academic performance and their physical and mental health. Grades go down, the risk of mental illness increases and students miss their lectures or switch to alternatives to protect themselves, which increases the chance of violence.
“We are going to be the kids that you read about in text books, not because we are going to be another statistic about mass shootings in America, but because we are going to be the last mass shooting” – Emma, March For Our Lives
The youngsters of March For Our Lives organized their biggest action in March 2018: the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Millions of people were inspired. Hundreds of thousands showed up at the march on Pennsylvania Avenue, and more than 800 sister marches emerged in all 50 US states and around the globe. Each one called for a peaceful solution to ensure safer schools and communities.
March For Our Lives could count on a broad base. What started out as a global cry for a safer future turned into a well-defined youth-led movement. The heart of the organization now consists of more than 20 young people who manage more than 1200 local teams from a central office.
The Road to Change
To safeguard their future, it is vital for young people to be heard. It became March For Our Lives’ mission to get young people out to vote and to force high level decision-makers to listen. On their Road to Change tour through the US, they visited communities affected by gun violence to talk about solutions. They held town rallies and voter-registration events, and they spoke with local politicians, the media, and families of victims of gun violence. They went door-to-door to spread their message and motivate young people to vote. It worked.
Together with members of other youth-led organizations, March For Our Lives visited more than 80 communities in 2 months and registered at least 10,000 voters. But according to the students, the impact of their tour can’t be measured in numbers alone. They have seen young people learn to make their voice heard, find a purpose in their community, and even run for office. Politicians, the media and the public have started listening to the next generation
“I know you want us to be kids, but we have more important things to do”.
Born in the internet era, the March For Our Lives students made powerful use of Twitter, finding new ways to protest. “Don’t give them content,” says Matt. “Create it yourself.” Combining impressive background knowledge with typical teenage communication styles involving ‘burns’ and calling out names, they demanded action from those in power via social media. Their message caught on, and soon they were being contacted by the biggest names in the media.
The March For Our Lives youngsters succeeded in making themselves heard. Since they started speaking out, over 25 states have passed more than 50 laws, all consistent with their cause.
These teenagers understand that to truly make a difference, they need to speak up, and speak up loud. If they want to influence policy, they have to mobilize people to support their cause and change the dynamics of the public debate. And that’s exactly what they have done.
“Don’t give them content, create it yourself.”
KidsRights Care and Study Fund will support David, Emma, Jaclyn en Matt during their study.
KidsRights is proud to, with your help, empower the youngsters of March For Our Lives as changemakers for saver schools and communities.
Read more about school violence
KidsRights supports new changemaking initiatives from International Children’s Peace Prize winners. KidsRights is currently looking for projects about saver schools and communities to fund through the International Children’s Peace Prize Fund 2018.
“Fight for your lives, before it is someone else’s job”.