Parkland Remembrance Prompts Students to Take Action

Three members of the SAVE Promise Club presenting in a conference room.

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The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people shocked the nation. It sparked fear among students and prompted demands for action. Since then, there have been dozens of school shootings killing more students and injuring countless others.

Federal lawmakers have been slow to respond to the public health crisis, while parents and school officials discuss measures to make their own schools safe. What we can’t ignore is the significant impact these events are having on students and the solutions they can bring to the table.

“No student should have to experience what my town had to. School should be a place of learning and growing, not a place that students should be scared of.”

Lena Kalandjian, Parkland resident and National Youth Advisory Board member

If we want to make real change, students need to be part of the discussion. Thousands of students who have been empowered to become upstanders are already making a difference in their communities every day.

Violence is Impacting Youth

The increase in school violence has taken its toll on our students. After threats surfaced last month in her own district, Aislinn Burns, a Connecticut high school student, and National Youth Advisory Board member, said less than half of the students felt safe returning to school. The feeling has become increasingly common, she said.

“Given the tragic events in recent years and the increase in threats made against schools nationwide, educators and adults need to know now that all of these events, even if not directly involving all students, still have a huge impact on them.”

Aislinn Burns, Connecticut resident and National Youth Advisory Board member

Gun violence towards youth, she added, should not be this common of a tragedy.

“After the threat, a few of my peers were unknowingly discussing some of the warning signs that were never reported. One of the biggest things that students can do is to report concerning behaviors. In almost all cases, these tragedies can be prevented by simply saying something.”

Aislinn Burns, Connecticut resident and National Youth Advisory Board member

Students Taking Action

After the shooting, Lena Kalandjian created a SAVE Promise Club at her school. Dozens of students joined within the first week, and it’s now the largest club on campus.

Lena learned that change begins with small acts of kindness and not waiting around for adults to do something.

“Lives can be saved, just by simply reaching out and saying hello.”

Lena Kalandjian, Parkland resident and National Youth Advisory Board member

Thousands of students like Lena are working through their Save Promise Clubs to make their schools a safer and more inclusive environment. There are now more than 3,500 clubs in schools nationwide empowering students every day to make a difference.

Lena said the Save Promise Club is a place where students can foster new ideas and find supportive people willing to make them happen.

Students Look To Trusted Adults

Members of the National Youth Advisory Board (YAB) also stressed that while students may share some common experiences, their emotions can often run the gamut. As a result, it’s important for students to create a strong relationship with an educator, social worker, coach, or other trusted adult they can go to for help.

“Many students have different concerns regarding the unfortunate happenings around the world, especially in schools. It is crucial that educators and influential adults make an effort to understand the multitude of emotions and attitudes that youth collectively hold.”

Max Moravec, high school student from Wisconsin and National Youth Advisory Board member

Trusted Adults are increasingly important as youth continue to grapple with heightened anxiety and depression during the ongoing pandemic.

“While it might seem more efficient to address everyone as though they share similar attitudes, a much more inclusive and comprehensive support system is created when one may speak up and have their individual feelings validated.”

Max Moravec, high school student from Wisconsin and National Youth Advisory Board member

Taking Action In Your Own Community

SAVE Promise Clubs empower students to protect and look out for one another. By building more inclusive environments where students feel supported, they are saving lives every day. Find out how you can start a SAVE Promise Club in your school today!