A National School Walkout is planned for March 14 at 10 a.m. local time. Looking for ways to support and show up for young people? Read below for a few mindful tips.
Thousands of young people across the country will participate in a National School Walk Out tomorrow—March 14—marking one month since the tragic mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Gun violence is a public health issue and is relevant to our work at Peer Health Exchange. It is deeply connected to concepts that we address in our curriculum, such as trauma, advocacy, mental health, accessing resources, and school safety. Looking for ways to listen, support and show up for young people? Here are a few mindful tips:
- Make space for young people to observe this day in meaningful ways. If you’re a Peer Health Exchange volunteer this could mean talking to your Program Manager about canceling workshops on the day of observance. If workshops are taking place during the Walk Out, check with teachers proactively to find out what is planned. If you’re a parent, administrator or youth ally ask the young person in your life how you can best show support.
- Recognize the need for reflection. When appropriate, explore learning opportunities to discuss this moment in time with young people. For example, Peer Health Exchange volunteers might find time in an advocacy workshop to acknowledge how youth have led the way for social movements for hundreds of years. Particularly, LGBTQ+ youth and young people have laid the foundation for today’s young leaders to be heard. They have affirmed that Black Lives Matter. They are DREAMers. They have helped change policy and law; challenged gender-based violence; and have fought for equal access to education.
- Make time to check in. Discussions of gun violence can be triggering to students, volunteers, staff and allies alike. Taking a moment to check-in with ourselves and each other is important. Whether you or a young person is feeling profound sadness, anger, confusion or numbness, know that your experience is valid and that a wide range of emotions is common. Mental health resources, such as those listed at Mental Health First Aid USA, are also helpful.
- Show solidarity by participating in your school’s activities, or by wearing orange. Remember, March 14’s National School Walk Out is just one of a string of upcoming demonstrations, followed by: