Students from a high school in Parkland, Florida turned trauma into activism and a get-out-the-vote campaign. Their high school was the site of a mass-shooting earlier this year. Their work has trickled down to Illinois and Springfield.
On Saturday a group called the Young Activists of Action Illinois will host a summit at the University of Illinois Springfield. The effort began as an outgrowth of student groups from area high schools who coordinated walk-outs in response to gun violence like the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High.
The new arm of advocacy group Action Illinois consists of self-identified "progressives" who are high school and college age, though 18-year-old organizer Claire Farnsworth says this weekend’s event is open to all. "I am very passionate about making sure everyone's voices are heard because that's the whole point of Democracy," she says. The summit will include sessions on women’s issues and voting in the upcoming election.
Farnsworth says she looks up to the youth from Parkland for their ongoing activism. "It was very inspiring to see them coming together and not even worry about their age or whether or not people would take them seriously."
She says youth from all political persuasions often have to fight to have their voices heard. "When you're young, no matter what your political ideals are, it can sometimes feel really isolated because adults don't really want to listen to you and there's nowhere to really put your voice, especially if you're not of voting age yet."