The tragic events at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have left much of the country stunned. While adults have been shocked and unsure of what to do, students there have stepped up. They have shown resilience in an event which they will never forget. Rather than simply mourning the loss of 17 members of the school community, they have been raising their voices.
Being Seen and Heard
We quickly learned of teens who stepped up during the school shooting to help one another and save lives. In addition to this, they have been active in getting the word out about how they feel. A large group has shared how they are upset with the current system in Florida and the United States. They have gone on television for interviews and town hall meetings. They have met with local, state, and federal members of law enforcement and public office.
When they did not feel like they were being heard, they didn’t give up. The teens worked together and gathered in places to peacefully protest. They did this by their school and in Tallahassee. This is not the end of their story. The Stoneman Douglas High School teens are also organizing a march in Washington, D.C. and other cities across the United States. On March 24, March For Our Lives will be a nationwide demonstration powered by teens across the country. The students state that they will march together as students, begging for their lives.
Ways to Empower Students in Your Schools
The teens in Parkland, Florida are just starting their work on a cause near and dear to their hearts. What they are also doing is inspiring their peers across the United States to step up and out of their comfort zone. To do this, students need to have a safe space where they can learn and be able to find their voice on topics which are important in their world. Counselors and other therapists may want to work with teens and administrators to start groups which will empower and help them to do good in the community.
This type of empowerment and work should not simply happen in the wake of a tragedy. Brainstorm with students during sessions, in classes, at outside events to see what is on their mind. Perhaps they want to start a student government group where they invite local officials from the school, community, state, or beyond to come and talk to them. Allow students to come up with creative ways to share the need for more talk and action on topics like poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, LGBTQ rights, safety in schools, and more. The most important aspect of all of this is being able to encourage students to be good citizens and promote positive change.
The sky is the limit, and teens are ready to take on more of a role. How are your schools working with teens in ways to empower them? Please share stories to inspire others.