It seems like you can't go a day without seeing someone from Stoneman Douglas High, or Parkland on the news. Since the horrific school shooting on February 14th, 2018, this community has made one thing clear: They never want to see this happen to anyone again.
School and pubic shootings have been on the rise in America since April 14th, 1999, after the Columbine High School Massacre. Each shooting polarizes the political and national views on the complex issues surrounding these travesties.
As one group of people vote for stricter background checks and gun reform, the other side attests to their constitutional right to bear arms. 19 years after the Columbine shooting, it's clear to see this issue is getting perpetually worse.
No matter what you views on gun control are, it's impossible to ignore the impact the community of Parkland, Florida is having. It's incredible, it's brave, and although it's heartbreaking, it's also immensely powerful. This community has become leaders on calling out gun reform and school shootings.
Here are a few lessons in leadership you can learn from them:
1. Support and hear others.
Instead of arguing on Twitter and Facebook feeds, the community of Parkland, Florida is asking us to listen to each other, reach a compromise and find solutions together. When speaking to President Trump last week, the family of Meadow Pollack--a student who was shot nine times and killed at Stoneman Douglas--expressed their grief and the need for America to work together to make sure something like this never happens again.
"It stops [here], we all work together and come up with the right idea," Andrew Pollack, Meadow Pollack's father, said, according to NBC News.
One of the most incredible leadership qualities a person can have is being able to put bias aside, and listen to people of opposing views. And more importantly, work with and for them.
2. Use your voice to stand for those who have no voice.
Throughout history, commendable leaders like MLK, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and JFK all had something in common: They spoke up for issues that were bigger than themselves. They used their voices to bring positive change to people who did not have the power or the platform to use their own voice.
The community and students of Parkland have made two things clear. First, they're speaking up on behalf of the students and teachers lost in the shooting. They are using their voices because those students and teachers have no voice of their own.
Second, they don't want to see another mass shooting. In addition to grieving, they are marching the streets in the hopes of ensuring no other kids, parents or communities have to go through this again.
Their twitter page @NeverAgain has over 95,000 followers listening as this movement grows. They aren't just speaking for themselves--they're speaking out for others.
And as we've seen in history, speaking your truth in an effort to serve others is an incredible quality of any leader.
3. Stand up to those more powerful than you.
Since the shooting, students of Stoneman Douglas High have been calling out politicians. In a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxD3o-9H1lYspeech at a Fort Lauderdale gun control rally just four days after the shooting, student Emma Gonzalez proclaimed:
"If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association."
The students are asking politicians tough questions to their faces. At a CNN town hall last week, Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the shooing and junior at Stoneman Douglas High School, called Florida senator Marco Rubio out for accepting million dollars from the NRA.
"Right now in the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?" Kasky asked.
Rubio answered, "I think in the name of 17 people, I can pledge to you that I will support any law that will prevent a killer like this."
These teenagers are standing up to politicians, asking extremely tough questions and demanding even tougher results. This is courageous, and an extremely powerful quality of any good leader.
The community of Parkland is asking politicians and Americans to listen to each other and work together. They're using their voices to demand positive change. And they are standing up to forces much larger than themselves in the process.
Although many see these teens and this community as survivors, they'll go down in history as leaders--because all of these are incredible examples of leadership. And individually, they're impeccable qualities every leader should have.