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Turning Sympathy into Change: Youth Advocacy for Gun Violence Prevention in Indianapolis

Wearing Orange on National Gun Violence Awareness Day isn’t just a color choice—it’s a remembrance of the life and legacy of Hadiya Pendleton and a chance to convert actionless sympathy into change and a chance to grow our movement to end gun violence.

From community violence and suicides to mass shootings, gun violence is both plaguing our communities and completely normalized. And tragedy after tragedy has left me feeling powerless.

Powerless because gun violence feels so preventable, especially if we’re working together and advocating for evidence-based solutions. I chose to get involved with Students Demand Action because I was tired of “thoughts and prayers” without action. I was tired of only the families and friends who lost loved ones grieving.

At first, I worried that my fears wouldn’t be heard or that this work was someone else’s problem. But instead, I found myself as part of a huge grassroots movement where I could make a difference and learned I wasn’t alone in wanting change.

So I started a chapter of Students Demand Action at my high school. I wanted other students to know that change is possible. And each individual we reach, helps to reach all those who will come after them, which is why it’s critical to invite people to our movement from communities who feel they won’t be heard.

We’re building a supportive and uplifting movement to end the terrifying reality of gun violence shattering a community, a home, a family, into pieces.

Gun violence doesn’t discriminate against who it impacts and neither should our advocacy. Whether you’re 10 or 100 years old, your advocacy can have a huge impact. After all, young people under 18 may not be able to vote, but we can and we have been making our voices heard.

National Gun Violence Awareness Day is important to me because advocacy and awareness require action. Understanding the impact gun violence has had on our communities means we can develop a solution-oriented mindset. Wear Orange Weekend supports a movement that works to change society for the better, and sometimes we need reminders of why we do what we do to motivate us to keep going.

Staying committed to reducing gun violence is difficult, but remembering that progress takes time, and that we’re working to protect future generations, keeps me going.

I’m working with my Students Demand Action chapter to make an impact on our school of over 3,000 kids so they can grow in a safe environment with an awareness of gun violence and the courage to stand up against it.

We may not see the finish line but we’re going to get as close as we can because we need and deserve change. With the numbers and support we have and the firm intention to do good, we can and will make a difference.

Wear Orange

During National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend, we join together to demand a future free from gun violence once and for all.

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