Ending the Tragedy of Gun Violence--Sparking Civil Activism at School

What is the injustice we are solving?
I hope to start a club at my school that revolves around us becoming engaged civil activists and leaders who initiate projects that can benefit the school, the community, and beyond. Too often we see that young people want to create change--whether it be hosting a clothing drive for those less fortunate or beginning an environmental campaign for zero waste--but don't know where to start or how to realize those aspirations; something which described me. In launching this club I hope to rally together a family of diverse, compassionate, and selfless leaders who can come together, explore campaigns of interest (political, social, environmental, etc.), and engender a lasting impact through our efforts. The first injustice we shall solve is one of the most pressing of our time--ending gun violence, especially in schools. Through our efforts, we will strive to rally our school together to contact our representatives about gun control legislation via signing petitions, writing letters, et cetera. We will mail these letters to our reps, organize meetings to promote awareness and set up presentations to share with our school and our community.
Our Compassionate Solution
To solve this injustice of
Curbing gun violence, especially in our schools. This will be one spark towards a broader movement of promoting civil activism at our school.
we will address
The need for stricter gun regulations, to protect the lives of students and staff in our schools and beyond.
organizing events for anyone interested at our school to come together, sign petitions, write letters and notes to our state representatives and government officials demanding more stringent and comprehensive gun control legislation.
Our Plan
Our Project Goals
To rally members of our school and community together to voice our concerns about gun violence.
To promote in students the recognition that we all can impact and transform injustices we notice, large or small, near or far.
To ignite a conversation about gun violence and other pressing injustices we face as human beings today.
To reach out to our local, state, and national representatives and request legal action be taken to protect lives from gun violence.
To inspire ourselves and each other that together, progress is possible and powerful.
We will increase my / our compassion by...
We will always be cognizant of the fact that gun violence is a tragedy that should not be a reality.

Through our meetings, we will discuss the issue of gun violence with sensitivity. Even if we have differing opinions or points of disagreement, we will promote an environment of listening and understanding, acknowledging and reconciling our diverse perspectives. We will reach compromises, tweak our solutions, and build off of each other; we seek a productive conversation and meaningful collaboration.

Through reaching out to our representatives, we will address them with respect but urgency, and we will remember that only by cooperation can we all achieve this objective of ending gun violence and establish ourselves as empathic and kind civil activists.

One sub-project I hope we can embark on is to create an art mural at our school to commemorate lives touched or lost to gun violence, and also how we, as civil activists, can honor these individuals. We can discuss ideas further at our meetings, but for now, I imagine even something as simple as a mural of multicolored post-it-notes or an art-board with messages to individuals affected by gun violence or quotes about how we can rally together to spark change.

Following our efforts to ignite a conversation and effort to combat gun violence at our own school, we will be open and ecstatic to identify other injustices and pursue these objectives. For instance, later I hope to start a shoe drive to collect shoes for those in need, especially the homeless or those in poverty, in greater Cleveland (the city where I'm from) and beyond. Additionally, I seek to initiate a zero-waste campaign at my school, with the goal of reducing landfill waste and instead promoting composting and recycling among ourselves.
How will you show courage?
In spite of any doubt, skepticism, or derision we may face from our peers or others due to the magnitude of our desired impact, we will not falter.

We will continue this movement. If individuals express objection, we will gladly listen to any concerns or suggestions they have, and in turn grow and improve our efforts. We will proudly showcase our support of promoting safety in schools and beyond with making banners to post and buttons to wear.

Despite setbacks or challenges, we will maintain our grit, and grind forward! Activism is about pursuing positive action for social change, and even with friction, our wheels must continue turning in order for us to progress forward.
How will you collaborate with others?
The entirety of this project and effort will be a team one. I have a group of friends and teachers who are supporting this endeavor. Many of my friends have already volunteered to help me make posters and spread the word about our meetings, and I've bounced my ideas off of several teachers. We will promote our efforts and our meetings via our school network, social media, and other means of connecting with our peers. Furthermore, we will keep our attendees updated with news and our progress.

Our endeavor for diminishing gun violence involves our representatives, whom we will reach out to with firmness but respect, and we will be perceptive that this is a nationwide effort that requires all of us to be understanding and listen to each other.

Also, we will encourage everyone to write letters/notes and express their opinions, but we will foster group conversations to inspire ideas or thoughts. Anyone who wants to is welcome to help us mail off these letters; afterward, we will submit ideas for future activist pursuits!
How will you know you are moving in the right direction?
Following our meetings, we will ask anyone interested to complete a brief survey so they can describe their experience at the meeting and tell us of any improvements they would like to see for future meetings. We will also host a suggestion box so people can drop off ideas for future activist projects, and we can discuss these at later meetings and pursue them!

We see this activist project as ongoing and hope it will be long-lasting. Tackling gun-violence as a community is our first pursuit, but it will definitely not be our last. We will always remain dedicated to doing whatever we can to be a part of positive change in our community and world, in whatever direction this dream may take us. :)
Create a list of key steps you will take
Research how we can rally together to ignite this activist movement (already done)
Put together a presentation about how we can all add our voices to this movement (already done)
Compile a list of contact information for state and national reps (in progress)
Obtain approval from school teacher(s)/faculty member(s) to host students in their classroom during these activist meetings (already done!)
Make/design posters, flyers, banners to promote these meetings. Obtain permission from the school to put these up, and then hang these up around the school. (in progress)
Share/Present my presentation with the school body to encourage adoption of this activist effort.
Invite anyone interested to my meetings through talking to fellow students/faculty, posting on social media platforms, spreading the news via word of mouth
Obtain paper, stationery, poster board, pens, envelopes, stamps, etc. for students to use to write and send letters and notes to our representatives. Also, buy snacks for students to help fuel their thoughts.
Collect student letters/notes and place stamps on the envelopes, then mail these out to the desired recipients (state or national reps, etc.)
Request meeting attendees complete a brief survey to tell us of their experience, and let us know of any suggestions they have for future improvements.
Thank students for their efforts via a thank you card, and encourage them to stay tuned to further activist efforts to come...
Establish an anonymous suggestion box where anyone can submit ideas for future activist projects they would like to see us pursue together
Continue further and future activist pursuits! :)
This project doesn't have any updates to show.
Jenny L.

April 05, 2018

Hi Jing!

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

This is a really strong plan and you've clearly put a lot of time and thought into how to set your project up for success, by listing out in detail all the steps you need to take along the way, and beginning the process of engaging supporters and allies within your school community. I also love that you are thinking about how to reach beyond your school to engage with political representatives in a practical way to advocate for change. One of the things I'm most excited about is that you are both focusing on a specific current issue (gun violence) as well as planning to build out a longer-term project that enables young people to be more civically engaged and will prepare you all to take action on a whole range of issues in future.

Things to consider:

One thing to consider is how your work on the issue of gun control can be supported by the broader gun control movement. There is so much awesome youth-led work being done on this issue right now – perhaps there are ways you can connect up with other groups and initiatives to learn from each other’s experiences and amplify one another's efforts. I also wondered how your work around the issue of gun violence might be strengthened by finding ways to listen to and incorporate the personal experiences of survivors of gun violence.
Finally, I encourage you to think about some concrete measures of success you could set for yourself over the next couple of months (the period covered by your Peace First mini-grant). There are a range of measures you might want to consider, for example, the number of sessions you hold, the number of students who attend your activities, number of letters sent to representatives, etc. These are just thought-starters - building on your feedback box idea! - which could help you to make sure that you're staying on track.

Congratulations and best of luck with your project!
Fish S.

March 26, 2018

Hi Jing!

We're excited to hear more about your ideas to address this important injustice! I wanted to let you know about an opportunity -- if you are interested in getting some funding for materials that you need to carry out your project, you can apply for a mini-grant of up to $250.

The deadline to submit your Project Plan and Mini-Grant Application is March 31st if you want to remain eligible to apply to attend a Peace First Accelerator.

As you craft your plan, be sure to consider the feedback we gave you on your compassionate insight, and check out our project planning tools for help turning your insight into a concrete action plan: https://www.peacefirst.org/plan-your-project

Then, through your dashboard you can make any changes you want to make to your "compassionate insight," record your plan in "Make a plan" and then "Apply for a mini-grant" for the materials you need.

Let us know if you have questions or if we can help in any way. We're looking forward to supporting your project!
Bonnie B.

March 11, 2018

Hi there! I see you’ve already been exchanging with other members of Peace First. I'm also a member of the Peace First team and wanted to provide you with some feedback on your Compassionate Insight. We encourage you to use this feedback as you continue to progress through the Planning phase. If you apply for a mini-grant, your Insight will be one of the things we consider.

I cannot think of a more important time for your project and congratulate you on a wonderful idea. My suggestions are to clearly focus your objectives – this will help a great deal as you move in to Planning.

For example:
• “What is the injustice you are solving for?” I love what you wrote – because you are creating the vision for what you want to accomplish. I suggest that what’s written isn’t exactly the injustice itself. I think you’ve written this below, in the Compassion Solutions section when you address that you want to protect the lives of students and staff in your schools. I suggest that maybe this is the injustice you are solving – that schools are not safe for students and staff and that is what you want to address. You can talk a bit about this in this section. Why are the students and staff not safe?
• “To solve this injustice of” creating safer environments in our schools you will……What specifically will you do? I suggest you select from much of what is already written (because it’s here) and this will provide real clarity.
• “We will address”…..if gun regulation is your goal, than I encourage you to be specific around how you will accomplish this in the “by” section. For example, you might sync your activities with some of the other mobilization efforts going on around the country.

Good luck! I think this is an important and very timely project!

Jing-Jing S.

March 31, 2018

Hi Bonnie,

I just saw your message! Thank you for all of your advice. I revised my project based on this insight and hope it better reflects our objectives now...

Thanks again!
Fish S.

January 30, 2018

Hey Jing! Awesome to see you create your project! Thanks for sharing your vision for this group. I think this is awesome and super needed -- a space for young people to get together and work on taking action, creating projects that address issues they care about. (Here's the great news -- we can support ALL those projects with tools and funding.)

What are your next steps? Do you have a group of people who will help you create and lead this club? How can we help?
Jing-Jing S.

January 31, 2018

Hi Fish,

My next steps would be to outline exactly which injustices I want to help solve through this club. I hope to organize a clothing and shoe drive (at my school) for those less fortunate in the downtown Cleveland area; host a fundraiser for refugees and natural disaster victims; and promote a campaign for zero waste at my school.

I have friends who would support me through this and I hope to recruit more people. I would greatly appreciate it if you had any advice to guide me through this. Once I have an idea, do I independently contact outside organizations (like UNICEF or city food banks) so we can send them the items and money we collect through drives, or is it better to try to do so on our own?

Thanks so much.
Fish S.

February 01, 2018

Hi Jing! Sounds like you have a lot of ideas -- awesome. What's your plan for deciding which one to focus on first?

Sounds like you have a lot of folks involved, too. I'd start by getting your friends together for an initial planning meeting, then asking each of them to bring additional friends to the next meeting -- and reaching out to folks you know are interested in social change at your school! Let people know the purpose of the club and what you hope to do -- as you've just told me.

I think generally it can be better to work with local organizations to distribute the materials you collect, because sending things internationally can have a high cost and you'll be able to impact your own community. But you should send out the resources you collect in whatever way makes sense for you!
Jing-Jing S.

March 31, 2018

Hi Fish,

I just saw your message; thanks for all of the advice! I'm in the midst of organizing a presentation and meeting for us to pursue our first (but definitely not last) objective of voicing our concerns about gun violence to our representatives.

I think this is a decent first step towards outreach, and with future projects, I hope to start local (as you suggested!) such as with a shoe drive for individuals in need in Cleveland (the city where I live) and then expand outwards from there. Also, I'd like to initiate a campaign for zero-waste at our school and see if we can grow that movement to other schools as well.

I will be sure to take into account all this advice!

Fish S.

April 02, 2018

Jing, this sounds like an amazing plan. How can we help?
Adrian B.

February 02, 2018

Hi Jing!

Wow--you have so many great ideas! I love your enthusiasm and initiative, and how you're already thinking about each step of your plan. That will help you out a lot as you get started and see your project through. It's also great that you have a bunch of people ready to help out and support this work--I'm impressed!

Peace First has many tools that can help you create a successful project. The first step is deciding what injustice you want to focus on for your first project. You have so many great ideas, and it's helpful to pick one to start. We have a number of tools for deciding what you want to focus on. If you go to peacefirst.org/resources, you can check them out--try some of the "choose" tools, and, if you're working with a more cohesive team, see what they want to focus on first.

Once you've decided what you'd like to focus on, we'll move to the next part of the process. :) Let me know if you have any questions, or if I can help in any way!

Jing-Jing S.

March 31, 2018

Hi Adrian!

I just saw this message. Thank you for all of the advice! I've decided to focus my project first on one of the most pressing pursuits of our time--gun violence. As civil activists in school, our first objective will be voicing our concerns to our representatives and promoting awareness of the issue at our school.

This is our first goal, but it most certainly won't be our last. I hope to have many meetings for future activist pursuits, from a shoe-drive for those in need in greater Cleveland to a zero-waste campaign at our school, to any other ideas proposed by our students and faculty! I'm excited to see what directions our ideas will take us :)

Adrian B.

April 02, 2018

Hi Jing,

Very exciting! Love all your ideas. What are ways you think gun violence should be addressed?