High honor: South Florida students who founded March for Our Lives after mass shooting at their school win the International Children’s Peace Prize

March For Our Lives organizers hold signs during a rally Monday, Nov. 5, on the steps of Tallahassee's Old Capitol building to urge people to vote ahead of the Tuesday election. CD Davidson-Hiers/Florida Phoenix

The students who survived the horrific February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and then founded the March for Our Lives movement to combat gun violence have been awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize.

Student leaders David Hogg, Emma González, Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch, along with other young leaders, have been traveling across the U.S. to advocate for gun control to stop school massacres like the one that left 17 dead at their South Florida high school. This week, they were in Cape Town, South Africa, where Archbishop Desmond Tutu presented them with the international award that’s sponsored by the Kids Rights Foundation.

“I am in awe of these children, whose powerful message is amplified by their youthful energy and an unshakable belief that children can — no, must — improve their own futures,” Tutu said.

In announcing the award, the Kids Rights Foundation described the extraordinary March for Our Lives movement:

“Personally affected by the tragedy, they responded by organizing the March For Our Lives event in the spring of 2018 to demand safer schools and communities and to protest gun violence. Hundreds of thousands participated in the rally and more than 800 sister marches took place that same day across the US and beyond. For David, Emma, Jaclyn and Matt, this was only the beginning.

In the summer of 2018, the group took to the road, visiting 80 communities in 24 states, leading discussions and advocating for the creation of safer communities. They lobbied, held town hall rallies, and motivated thousands of young people to register to vote. The March For Our Lives movement has continued to be highly vocal and very successful. Since its advent, over 25 U.S. states have passed more than 50 pieces of legislation in line with their cause.”

In a short documentary video about the March for Our Lives Movement, the Florida students describe the horrific day that shattered their suburban community, and their call to action afterward.

“I knew that the media would cover it for maybe two weeks and that would be it,” student Jaclyn Corin says in the video. “So we immediately got on screen and we said: No. You are not going to cover our tragedy. We are going to talk about it. Because we lived it.”

“I know you want us to be kids. But we have more important things to do,” student Matt Deitsch tells Daily Show host Trevor Noah in the video.

“We’ve definitely seen an impact that we have had,” student Emma Gonzalez says, citing an increase in young people registering to vote as well as legislation and marches across the country.

And student David Hogg pledges:

“This is going to change. We have the people, we have the pressure, and we have the age.”

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