With a heartbreaking school year behind them, a faction of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students involved in the gun reform movement are looking forward to traveling around the nation to get young people to the polls this fall.
About two dozen students from the Parkland high school, where 17 students and school staff were killed Feb. 14 in the deadliest school shooting in Florida, appeared in black T-shirts that read "Road to Change" on Monday to launch a national and statewide summer bus tour to register teens to vote in time for the midterm elections.
Cameron Kasky, one of the students leading the March For Our Lives movement that marched on Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., said the bus tour is the movement's next step to "harness the energy and passion we witnessed on March 24 and turn it into action."
"We can march, we can bring our politicians into a new light and make sure they are being held accountable, but at the end of the day, real change is brought from voting," he said. "And too often, voting is shrugged off as nothing in our country."
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About 20 students will split into two bus tours over two months: A national tour will make 75 stops in 20 states, including Iowa, Texas, California, Missouri, South Carolina and Connecticut, and a statewide tour will visit all 27 congressional districts in Florida. Some students will take days off and some will participate in both tours.
Their first stop is a peace march in Chicago, led by students from St. Sabina Academy, on June 15. The tours will last into August.
Kasky said the tour is being funded by donations made by individuals from around the country. A dollar amount was not disclosed. Donations are accepted through the March For Our Lives website.
The students are partnering with Rock The Vote, HeadCount, NAACP and Mi Familia Vota to assist with digital and on-the-ground voter registration work and marketing and communications firm Precision Strategies.
Student Jaclyn Corin described March For Our Lives as a nonpartisan organization and said the bus tour will not endorse any political candidates, just ideas and policies and "morally just leaders."
"We're just trying to save lives here," she said.
Aside from registering people to vote, student David Hogg said the bus tour will promote behavioral intervention programs and look to speak with gun owners and National Rifle Association supporters "about how these issues affect them and how we can effect change."
According to a press release, the tour will also tell young people about "critical reforms needed" and whether their local politicians support those reforms or support the NRA.
"This generation is the generation of students you'll be reading about next in the textbooks because these are the students who will be bringing about the real change and changing the game," Kasky said.