Obtaining Buses to Join The March For Our Lives in Chicago

A Peacemaking Project by Sokhna K.

What is the injustice we are solving?

On March 14th Crown Point High School successfully walked out in protest for gun control. The event was extremely empowering and brought many students to tears, but more than that it has motivated them to join the movement and march. We, the organizers of the walkout at our school, hope to obtain the Women's March grant to make this happen. Civic engagement is the cornerstone of democracy and we believe empowered and activated youth is the key to solving issues of gun violence and social justice. We plan on using a percentage of the grant money added with what we've raised to get multiple charter busses. With the remaining money, we plan on starting a Student Activism club with the Unity Principles so that students have the opportunity to be educated on and create change for social justice issues in the future.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of Gun Violence
we will address Empathy and civic engagement
by empowering high school students through protest and voting registration, and publishing easy to digest info. on the issue that does not exclude any demographics

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • Raise $300 to lower price for students
  • Secure grant
  • Get at least one bus of students to the march in chicago
  • Empower students
  • Inspire future actions and club sign ups

We will increase my / our compassion by...

After showing courage in the face of threatened school consequences Crown Point walked out. This walkout was an enlightening and empowering experience for many. We will capitalize on this empowerment by joining the march in Chicago where thousands of people will be in attendance. This experience will increase our compassion by giving us the opportunity to stand together in true unity with this nationwide movement. As well as educate and empower ourselves and the people we meet along the way. Being a part of this huge event will allow each student to find another reason to stand up for gun control.

How will you show courage?

Though we did organize the walkout at our school this is a whole new level of responsibility. Though I am a bit intimidated by the task my group and I will show courage by seeing this project through because it is the right thing to do. Through our leadership and careful planning we will make our goals a reality and create a life-changing experience for our peers.

How will you collaborate with others?

As organizers in a group of four we collaborate on every decision we make. It is important for us to be organized horizontally rather than in a hierarchy because with our diverse backgrounds, equal collaboration means equal representation of issues and people. Each of us bring a different perspective to the table and as leaders the representation of all the issues we have experienced affects who will join us and how empowered they will be by our actions. We also do a lot of collaboration with our peers delegating some tasks to them so that we are truly "student lead" and not just "student organized". Additionally, we collaborate with outside businesses and organizations for fundraising purposes and well as inspiration. We have been in contact with our local chapter of Moms Demand Action as well as local businesses who would like to support us.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

Once we have the timeline set we can determine if everything is going well. By attaching the key steps to our actual timeline we can determine if we're meeting our goals. We'll keep a digital list filling the bus as the confirmations come in. We're working with a strict deadline so it will be easy to see how we are progressing.

Key Steps

  • Contct Infinity Transportation and set deadline for bus confirmation
  • Get waivers for minors
  • Send "confirmation" remind and "maybe" remind with link to gmail for official placement
  • Have people email "confim" or "maybe" to email w/ name, age, contact info
  • Fill list for bus A w/ confirmed list
  • Collect deposit from bus A
  • Begin taking people off waitlist for bus B

Reflection:

How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

Participating in the March For Our Lives Chicago helped us gain more understanding of how black and Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by gun violence. The fight they have is different than ours in many ways but to solve this bigger issue of gun violence we must work together. Overall, being a part of this event has inspired and motivated my team and me to continue our work and consider the struggles of other communities nearby.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

We live in a predominantly white suburban community in a red state. A huge part of the event in Chicago focused on gun violence in the city disproportionately affecting people of color. From issues of institutionalized poverty for brown and black communities to police brutality, the kids we brought were able to gain a whole new perspective on the issue. I think CPHS kids walked away with a greater understanding of racial issues and their part in gun violence. These kids have returned to our school and will then be able to influence the perceptions towards people of color within their friend groups.

How many people were impacted by your project?

35

Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

The bus we took say 35 so that is the number directly impacted. Since going I have seen how the kids that went have motivated and educated their friends to get involved. So, more than 35 people have been impacted but 35 have been directly impacted.

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

We hear a lot about mass shootings which are an epidemic in our country, but the shootings that happen every day are an even bigger problem. We were able to learn through various student speakers how kids in underprivileged neighborhoods have never felt safe in their schools or their walk to school. We also learned that there is a huge mental health problem in these communities. To quote a speaker we heard "kids are carrying around PTSD like it's a backpack". Overall we learned that our activism on this issue needs to involve getting more funding for schools and mental health counseling in these communities.

What did your team learn?

Through this project, my team learned a lot of responsibility handling a 1,000 budget and keeping a group of 35 students together. I think through using Peace First we learned how to stay really focused on the issues we are trying to solve as we organize. We also learned a lot more about this issue and how by fixing our community' s gun problem we can help Chicago fix theirs. Many guns used in Chicago come from neighboring Indiana cities with loose gun laws. Overall, we learned that we can do great things and what we do will make a huge impact.

What challenges did your team overcome?

We faced a few problems, in the beginning, getting the bus with such a tight deadline. We also struggled to collect all the money from students but once we made a spreadsheet system that was solved. At the event, we had to keep everyone together and accounted for which was a big challenge. The biggest challenge we faced that we could not overcome was parents not trusting the event. Many more kids were interested in attending but parents had deep concerns for their safety we were unfortunately unable to ease.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

We involved community members in the bus project instead of just students. Their participation helped us get a few scholarship seats and lower the price to $12 for student tickets. We also secured a grant from Peace First (which we are extremely grateful for) which helped funding for the bus. After the bus and the walkout which attracted local attention, we have begun partnering with local gun control groups to continue civic engagement.

What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to put yourself in the mindset of a winner. Think "I can and I will" and allow for no other option but success. The only thought that shoud be in your mind is the success of your project. Especaly if you are working in a group, you can't allow yourself to be caught up in debaes over superficial details or credit. What matters is that you see it through and get it done. Your project will look different than what you imagined. That said, the feeling you get seeing how everyone around you is affected by your work makes any flaws disapeer. Basically, stay focused and true to the integrity of your project. Know that doing this one thing isn't going to make you feel complete or super accomplished. The day-of you'll probably be more stressed than ever, and then obsess over the detals of how it all went. But, I've learned that that's just how the job goes and it only ges better with time. At the end of the day our job is not to be satisfied by the work we're doing but rather the outcome be create. I have a secret theory that MLK probably hated marching, but what those marches did he loved. My last piece of advice is that you really have to check-in with yoursef and commit to it. Change cannot be made passively. It can be done without violence but never without persistence and loud resistance. Make sure you give yourself time to do your project right because you can't cram it in as a little side project or it won't really get done. Your project will only be as good as you are so take care of yourself and dont stress too much!

Our Updates:

New Step to "Check In" with students and goals

Sokhna K. 16 March 2018 10:09 Through our remind, we'll send a survey for students to complete on the way back so we can gauge how well we met our goals of empathy and empowerment as well as motivation to participate in future actions. We will also be able to use the results to post our reflection on how well the project went.

Comments:

Kelsey T.
5 June 2018 17:14

Hi Sokhna!

Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project!

Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:
You've done and incredible job carrying out this project and your reflection is wonderfully thoughtful! Well done pulling off a project that is both a logistical feat (coordinating a trip for 35 of your peers is no easy task) and a deeply thoughtful peacemaking project rooted in courage, compassion and collaboration. I also appreciate how open you have been to growth and learning through the process. I loved reading about how attending the March for Our Lives even in Chicago helped to deepen the group's understanding of how gun violence impacts marginalized communities -- and that you are thinking about the complexity of this issue (how poverty, police brutality, racism, and mental health are all connected to this issue and to each other). This is just the beginning and your project has the potential to deepen and expand its impact as you continue to work to create safer communities -- great to hear you have thought about how to partner with local organizations. Excited to hear more about your future plans and keep up the good work!


We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!  

RaulPF C. Peace First Staff
19 March 2018 11:27

You are very welcome, Sokhna!

I am really looking forward to hearing how it all goes.

Raul  

Kelsey T.
16 March 2018 15:12

Congratulations! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below.

Strengths:
Wow! I am so impressed by how well you have articulated why you are organizing this participation in March for Our Lives. I think it is really powerful that you have identified civic engagement as the path to addressing gun violence and I love how you are building on your high school's participation in the walk out to keep the momentum going. Your description of how you are demonstrating courage, compassion and collaboration is also very strong -- it is wonderful to hear what a collaborative process you are using and that you are also working with other organizations. This is such an important part of creating change! I also love that you said you want to present information that is inclusive of all demographics -- it is so critical in this moment of to remember all the forms of gun violence and the youth of color who have been at the front lines of this work. I encourage you to keep thinking about how to involve diverse voices and lift up the voices that are sometimes ignored (and help amplify quieter voices).

Things to Consider:
I would echo Raul's comment about keeping track of your impact. I'd also encourage you to start thinking now about what you will do after the March to continue to drive this change and keep the students you're impacting engaged -- what can you do as a group to continue to motivate one another despite delays and setbacks that might come on the path toward change? I love that you are planning to start a Student Activism club and I think setting some specific short term goals for the club -- perhaps based on what you learn through this experience -- would be a great idea.

Congratulations and best of luck with your project! Excited to hear how it all goes!  

Sokhna K.
16 March 2018 9:54

Hi Raul,

Thanks so much! I love the idea of a survey it's an easy thing we can do through our remind and will also make for a great bus activity! I love the idea of "checking in" with everyone so we can get an idea of how the group is feeling.

Thanks for the insight,
Sokhna Kelly  

RaulPF C. Peace First Staff
16 March 2018 8:41

Hi Sokhna,
Thanks so much for posting this project.

As part of the Peace First project-making process, we give formal feedback on your compassionate insight.

I want to give you feedback on your insight:
"To solve this injustice of
Gun Violence
we will address
Empathy and civic engagement
by
empowering high school students through protest and voting registration, and publishing easy to digest info. on the issue that does not exclude any demographics"

It is great that you are using civic engagement and a long-term solution to address the injustice you have identified.

It is also great that you have already put a lot of thinking behind your plan. One area of your plan where I think you could improve is in relation to how to know you are moving in the right direction. Since you want to address empathy and civic engagement, I would encourage you to maybe run a simple survey with the participants to understand how their involvement with the activities has affected their empathy and civic engagement. For example, your question could be:
As a result of my involvement in ....
I am more motivated to be part of civic engagement activities (Strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree)

This is just an example but I would encourage you to work with your team to think about it. That way, you know that you are not only reaching people in terms of numbers but also in terms of positive impact.

We hope to be able to continue supporting your work.

Best,

Raul