On February 14, 2018, seventeen people, including students and adults, were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since this tragedy, the voices of young people from the community have been lifted through their dynamic advocacy to call for reform to national, state, and local gun- and mental health-related policies. Many of the strong skills that they are using for their advocacy came from their immersion and studies in arts education.

The movement that the young people have started—Never Again—utilizes myriad skills that the students have honed from their artistic learning experiences. As reporting from the New Yorker noted, “…it’s not a coincidence that a disproportionate number of the Never Again leaders are dedicated members of the drama club.” Some members of the group were in rehearsal at the time of the shooting, while others referenced their participation in arts courses during town hall meetings. One of the group’s leaders, Emma González (who was in the school’s auditorium at the time of the shooting), has received much praise from numerous artists for her impassioned speech at Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale a few days following the incident.

“We’re gonna stand tall, gonna raise up our voices so we’ll never ever fall … we’re tired of hearing that we’re too young to ever make a change.”

Other youth, such as student journalist David Hogg, are utilizing the skills they have learned in school and during extra-curricular time to tell their own stories about the tragedy. Many students recently traveled to the Capitol in Tallahassee to be heard ahead of a critical vote in the state legislature.

Read more about coping with tragedy through the arts by Jeff Poulin at Americans for the Arts