Miami-Dade County

Young survivors: A WLRN project on the unspoken trauma of gun violence

Aaron Willis walks across the stage at his graduation from Booker T. Washington High School.
Aaron Willis walks across the stage at his graduation from Booker T. Washington High School. pfarrell@miamiherald.com

Today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. WLRN News looks into what happens to the young people who survive getting shot in the series Young Survivors: The Unspoken Trauma of Gun Violence. On WLRN 91.3-FM, 101.9-FM in the Palm Beaches and WKWM 91.5-FM in the Keys.

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For Aaron Willis, a Booker T. Washington High student partially paralyzed by an unknown shooter in Wynwood, putting his life back together has proven a grueling emotional challenge — both for him and his family.

Willis is one of hundreds of young people in Miami-Dade County who have survived bullet wounds, an experience that leaves psychological scars that have not been well-researched.

In a special project, Young Survivors: The Unspoken Trauma of Gun Violence, WLRN-Miami Herald News chronicles the wrenching experiences of the Willis family and explores a host of related issues: how Congress stripped funding from gun violence research, how trauma surgeons at Jackson Memorial Hospital keep victims alive and how schools in Miami-Dade are responding to gun violence.

On the night of Dec. 19, 2012, an unknown gunman shot 15-year-old Aaron Willis in the back near Midtown, in Miami, while he was riding his bike. The bullet severed his spine and left Aaron paralyzed. Fast forward four years. On Wednesday, Willis,

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