Never Too Young to Make an Impact


Aubrey Anderson, Opinion Editor

On March 14, I walked out of my 10 a.m. class for 17 minutes. I gathered with a group of my peers, faculty, and staff of Buena Vista University. We, along with other protesters across the country, were protesting to raise awareness of gun violence occurring in public schools.

When I first heard about the national walkout, I was excited that people were going to take a stand. I personally love it when the country can unite and take a stand against a major issue. As my friends and I stood in silence that morning, listening to the names of students and school staff members who lost their lives during some of the most recent shootings, I couldn’t help but think about my mom, a middle school teacher. I thought about my hometown, my schools. There is nothing to stop something like this from happening to the individuals I personally know and love. As the names continued to echo through the silence, I found myself fighting tears. But then, my brain was brought back to the students from Parkland, Florida, and I was filled with hope.

It is because of the students from Parkland (as well as other students and parents of children who experienced one of the other tragic shootings) that this protest even occurred. These students, some of whom aren’t even 16, are changing the way the U.S. is viewing gun violence and gun policies. They are saying, “Enough is enough” and have not been silenced since their school was attacked on February 14. In just one month, a gun safety bill has been passed in the state of Florida. The Florida Governor, Rick Scott, has signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which raises the gun purchasing age from 18 to 21 and has a required three-day waiting period before purchases can be made. This bill also creates a program to train school personnel for school shooting scenarios.

Parkland students, along with the many people who have been inspired by them, are changing the world around them. They are setting the example that it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you are passionate about an issue, you can make a change.

Such a concept was really brought home to me when I was at a recent IMPACT Conference in Dayton, Ohio. During my time there, I was able to present on the topic of being an ally for social justice issues. People are motivated by things they are passionate about, and at the conference, it was clear that the hundreds of college age students were passionate about making a change in the world, whether that be through fixing hunger issues, equal rights for all, inadequate housing, etc. One of the keynote speakers mentioned the power of college-age students. But he also mentioned that age is just a number. We are all citizens and have a right to state our opinion. The bravery of the Parkland students is showing the power that the younger generations have.

Unfortunately, school shootings have started to become more common news. But this generation of students are standing together, inspiring their peers and making the world understand that it all must end. Policies must change so that more innocent lives are not lost.

These young adults, who aren’t even old enough to vote, are changing the mind of government leaders and forcing the change of policy. If they are able to inspire all of this change, imagine what would happen if we all gathered behind them and used our votes to really make a difference in our world.

We are never to young (or too old) to change the world we live in. Let these young students be our example. Never be silent.