As a teacher in middle school, I get to witness a lot. Some of it surprising some of not so surprising. Recently I sat down with four amazing young ladies who led their school to participate in the Walk-Out to protest gun violence in support of recent events in Parkland, Florida.
Gracey Ashe, Eleanor Burns, Emily Campbell, and Paisley Pekks attend a school in Raleigh, NC were leadership is inspired and encouraged on a daily basis. The young ladies proved this to be true. They approached their teachers and eventually their principals and expressed their desire to want to make sure their voice was heard along with thousands of other students around the country.
When I asked the young ladies why they were so motivated to not only participate but lead the school in the protests their answers were simple:
“It was time for us to do something and get the community involved. We haven’t done much and the more people the better. It will be the positive attention we need to make change happen.”
“All of our lives matter and they are all more important than anyone owning a gun. Us being safe in school is more important than any gun. We also should have the opportunity to speak out and represent our opinion on these topics. And the more of us that speak up the better. The truth is how can we still feel safe?
“Any day we could have what happened there in Parkland and in Columbine happen here. It’s time for us to speak up. I’m not done. This is only the beginning. I’ll be at the march this weekend, too.”
“I got motivated because we all deserve to feel safe at school. Parents shouldn’t have to think about the possibility of their child getting hurt or dying when they drop them off at school.”
These young ladies mean what they say. They talked about not necessarily being in politics when they begin their careers, but knowing that one day they will want the reassurance that their own children will be safe at school. The students feel this has to happen now. Policies and better restrictions are needed now to make these changes a reality.
“Having a family is what we are looking forward to. I want my family to be safe but I also want my children to speak up when they see something wrong that they feel strongly about.”
I must say, these four ladies have reignited my fire to speak up for North Carolina and their families when the reluctance of our elected officials ignore the outcry of the citizens they represent. I am proud to say they are the April recipients of the She Is Fierce Award from Women AdvaNCe. When I told the ladies they were shocked and proud. They thanked their parents, teachers, and especially their fellow classmates who stood with them as they made sure a collective voice was heard.
In my opinion, we haven’t seen the last of Gracey , Eleanor, Emily, and Paisley.