The Parkland survivors were just awarded a global peace prize.

Parkland school shooting survivors and founders of March For Our Lives have been awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize.

After a gunman shot and killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last February, a group of survivors—part of a generation of kids who spent their childhoods doing active shooter drills in their classrooms—decided enough was enough. They took advantage of the microphones being thrust in their faces and used their voices to start a movement that has taken off like no other gun legislation campaign ever has.

These students are now being recognized on the world stage for their ongoing work to end gun violence. On November 20, anti-apartheid activist and renowned cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu presented the Parkland teens’ organization, March For Our Lives, with the International Children’s Peace Prize in Cape Town, South Africa. The prize from the KidsRights Foundation is “awarded annually to a child who fights courageously for children’s rights. All winners have shown a remarkable commitment to combating problems millions of children face worldwide.”


Desmond Tutu called the students “true change-makers.”

“The peaceful campaign to demand safe schools and communities, and the eradication of gun violence, is reminiscent of other great peace movements in history,” Tutu said. “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.”

It’s an inspiring yet sad commentary, as theoretically adults should be the ones improving the future for children. However, since American grown-ups have spent decades proving they won’t take meaningful legislative action to curb gun violence, kids have been left with no choice but to take it on themselves. And take it on they have.

March For Our Lives released a statement that reflects the students’ commitment and laser sharp focus on the issue: “We are truly humbled and grateful for this award, but know that our work will not stop until we end the appalling and preventable epidemic of gun violence in the United States.”

Emma Gonzáles, David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, and brothers Matt and Ryan Deitsch, who have helped serve as the public faces of March For Our Lives, received the award in Cape Town. More than 100 children from around the world were nominated for the prize, previous recipients of which include Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani youth who refused to stop speaking out for education even after being shot in the face.

The Parkland activists haven’t slowed down since the shooting.

The Parkland students organized March for Our Lives, a demonstration that drew hundreds of thousands of people to Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018, and spurred hundreds of sister events around the world. MFOL has since evolved into an advocacy organization that pushes for lawmakers to stand up to the gun lobby, fund gun violence research, eliminate restrictions on the ATF, and pass various common sense gun legislation.

This summer, the students organized the Road to Change campaign, visiting communities in more than 20 states to help register young voters and spread the message that it's time to take action—legislatively and culturally—to end America's gun violence problem. They also pushed for youth turnout for the 2018 midterms with their #TurnoutTuesday series.

The Parkland survivors are on a serious mission to save lives, and they're clearly not going to stop until that missions is accomplished.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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