Parkland survivors share stories, encourage activism

Sam Zeif sat on stage, illuminated by the sharp light of camera flashes, a microphone held shakily to his lips. He was at the Cosford Cinema Nov. 5 to tell his story and to propel a movement that started with the firing of a gun on February 14, 2018.

Driven by the desire to make a change, Sam and five of his fellow survivors told what happened in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the Parkland shooting.

Zeif recounted the sound of gunshots rattling through the hallways, which sent students scattering to nearby classrooms. Nikolas Cruz, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and multiple magazines, had opened fire in the school, turning a place of learning into a warzone. By the time he left, there were 17 people dead.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” Zeif said, his voice trembling. “It’s something all of us will carry forever.”

At that point in the presentation, the speakers shifted the focus away from the past and toward the future. They said that with ardent activism and sincere effort, gun control legislation can be changed.

“There’s nothing better than finding a way to use your voice for something that matters,” Zeif said. “The vote doesn’t end here on November 6. This is only the beginning, and now the real battle starts.”

With 31 mass shootings in October alone, and upwards of 307 since the start of 2018, according to Business Insider and the Gun Violence Archives, the Parkland survivors have continued working to raise awareness and educate the public about the dangers of gun violence.

Students representing organizations that were formed in honor of the Parkland victims spoke about their efforts to make a difference.

Carter Cooper, a member of Branches of Bravery, a charity that seeks to help victims cope with trauma and loss through the planting of trees, was among them.

“Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Cooper, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.