Guns are the #1 killer of kids aged between 1-19. School gun violence is becoming more and more common. Adults are not doing much about it. Kids have decided to bring more awareness to this issue by staging middle school walkout. We kids are also urging the parents and teachers to write letters to the Congress.
We felt like gun violence was a nation wide problem. Guns themselves aren't an issue, but they often do end up in the wrong hands, killing innocent people. Teachers and students are dead because of lenient gun laws.
We felt anger about the gun shooting in Uvalde. We could not begin to imagine how that children and their families felt. We could not understand why gun violence happened so often in United States. We felt the solutions were not that difficult, even kids like us could come up with some ideas.
Ways To Inspire Our Community
Gun violence was what we wanted to tackle, because it felt very personal to us as students and kids. But also, it doesn't just affect us, it also affects gun owners, the police, parents, and really, the community. Gun control is the leading cause of death for kids, this is a public health crisis. We deserve to feel safe, especially at school. And we don't. That's the problem. That's why we need gun control.
Here are some of the solutions we came up with:
Create a website where we could collect letters to send to Congress, asking senators to pass better gun control laws
Bring more awareness by staging a peaceful school walkout
Allow kids to demonstrate so we could all feel we had some control over gun shootings
Organize a peaceful protest march to the Town Hall, after school hours, to hear a teacher, student, and parent speak.
Post a video discussion about gun control with a local politician.
Have a poster/flyer making party.
Using Their Talents to Promote Their Cause
We ended up having a grades 5-8 walkout for gun control, where we also gave a speech and handed out noisemakers, trinkets, and posters. Grade 5th could not attend because of a field trip.
However, we did go through with our website idea as well. It was a combination of advertising the walkout and collecting Congress letters for our Massachusetts senators.
When we were planning the walkout, some parents had concerns about traumatizing the younger students. Because of this, the walkout was for kids in grades 5 to 8, though the website is open to everyone.
The older students and teachers could attend and did attend the walkout, since they are the ones targeted in school shootings. Kids wanted to make an impact, a disruption in our regular school day, so that people would realize: this is not normal. Gun violence is not normal, and we deserve better.
A big challenge we faced was finding out that the teachers could not actively support us, as they were required to remain apolitical during work hours. Because the school had to remain neutral, we could not use the PA system for announcements. As we could not traumatize younger kids, we could not put posters in the schools walls. We were hoping a teacher would talk during the walkout, but they declined.
We overcame these challenges by using texts, word of mouth, canvas email, and by talking in the advisories. We posted neutral big posters at the entrance of the school the day of the walkout, we were careful not to mention guns or violence in them, just "walkout today 1pm". We abandoned the idea of an adult giving a speech and settled for just one of us addressing the walkout.
We shared our project using the website we created, advertising the walkout and with the walkout itself.
We learnt from the feedback that gun control is controversial and just thinking/talking about it generates fear and anxiety in adults.
We encountered a lot of support the day of the walkout from our classmates. The turnout was amazing. We think around 80-90% of the students 6-8th grade ended attending the demonstration. And the students were really engaged, chanting, clapping, carrying posters and listening to the speech. Kids want change regarding gun violence. That became very clear to us.
We learnt that from having ideas to completion of a project, there are lots of steps. We encountered more challenges that we had anticipated. We found out we had it on us to come up with creative solutions. We found parents and teachers in our community to be more conservative than we thought they were. We faced anxiety and grew from trying to manage it. We discovered that breaking a process in steps, helps you achieve your final goal. We overcome fears, such as speaking in public. We realized our friends and classmates are more mature than adults would give them credit for.