By Maggie Parker, Photo by Sylvia DeSwaan

On Saturday, March 24th, hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, even worldwide, took to the streets with signs and chants to convey a clear message. That as students, as teachers, as parents, they have had enough of gun violence and demanded gun control. It was called the March for Our Lives.On Saturday, March 24th, hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, even worldwide, took to the streets with signs and chants to convey a clear message. That as students, as teachers, as parents, they have had enough of gun violence and demanded gun control. It was called the March for Our Lives.It was part of a movement that has recently grown to be incredibly strong. I am beyond proud to have been one of the passionate and determined students that brought this significant event to Utica. The march and rally were organized by me and my friend and fellow student activist, Tina Mistric. We worked with members of Central New York Citizen Action, who helped us with the technicalities and the different details in planning an event. The march began at Thomas R. Proctor High School and ended at Oneida Square. There was a turnout of 370 people according to our sign-in sheets and speakers and performers presented both before and after the march In the weeks following the Parkland shooting, I felt the same devastation felt by so many across our country when tragedy like this occurs. I felt horrified and disgusted that this had become a norm in our country. A part of me felt hopeless, thinking that this would become part of a far too common cycle where a shooting would happen, people would be upset and angry for a few days, politicians would tweet about “thoughts and prayers,” and ultimately no action would be taken.I was so proud and relieved that I was mistaken.

When Parkland students, survivors, spoke out and were turning the grief and attention in the wake of tragedy into power and motivation, I was in awe. I was filled with pride, as well as inspiration. They were given a platform, which they have used to not only make their own voices heard but highlight the voices of those who do not have the same opportunities. This unity and strength among these students instilled a feeling of solidarity across the nation, and I knew I wanted to find a way to support them and join them in this fight for our lives. This movement was becoming more and more necessary in this area as there were new stories of gun threats in nearby schools, including Utica College. I knew that we would be able to gain support. I already had a team of students interested. The effects of this gun violence epidemic has an outreach everywhere. Local students were scared but equally ready to make a difference.

I wanted to help give them an opportunity to show their support for this cause, and to allow their voices to be heard. The effects of this march have been incredible. The movement does not stop here. We are currently establishing a student organization dedicated to planning more events in the future. The March for Our Lives awoke a spirit among students, both here across the country and across the globe. Everyone should keep their eyes open for what we will achieve in the future.

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