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Students against gun violence plan to walkout Wednesday

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) -- Last month, organizers from the Women's March youth branch started calling for students across the country to walk out of class for 17 minutes -- one for each victim who died in the Parkland shooting -- on March 14, to pressure lawmakers to act on gun control.

Now, in addition to walkouts, students across the country are planning rallies, marches and sit-ins -- some in open defiance of their school districts.

Participants say they want to make sure that calls for change in the wake of Parkland take into account the broader context of gun violence in the United States. For D'Angelo McDade, a senior at North Lawndale College Prep High School in Chicago, gun violence is personal -- but not because of a shooting at school.

He was shot in the thigh as he sat on his front porch in the summer of 2017, leaving bullet fragments in his body, he said. As soon as he was released from the hospital, he started talking to his principal about ways to fight gun violence. On Wednesday, he plans to lead more than half of the school's 600 students on a walkout to converge with teens from other schools.

"Many of our community members and young adults have established a sense of hopelessness and normalized the suffering that comes with gun violence," he said. "But they're ready to see a change."

Michiana taking part

Clay High School students formed a club specifically in response to the Parkland, Florida shooting. Its called "Clay Outreach" and was created to assist in tragedies and stand up for students.

According to the student organizers, the walkout was planned with a goal to memorialize the 17 Florida victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with 17 CHS students representing them in memory.

Pins and bracelets will be sold with all the proceeds headed to a memorial fund for victims and their families.

Students say they worked hard to put on the walk because they want to make a difference and they were able to do it with the support of their principal and vice principal.

“It helps us realize that its something that can happen to us. And if we don’t change something now, it’s never going to change, and we need that change.” said Dana Taborn, student organizer.

Other groups formed at schools like Culver Academies in Marshall County will also join in on the nationwide walkout in a statement of unity.

These students hope that the unity of this event will be a catalyst for change. 

For senior Helen Johnston, schools shootings is in the back of every high schooler's mind and she says, "Enough is enough."

"It's the best that students are doing this because we don't really have to concern ourselves with politics or anything like that. There's no, like, voters that we're trying to gain support of, there's no funding we have to worry about being withdrawn. We're students, we're young and we can risk a lot but we also have a lot to gain because we have our whole lives ahead of us," said Johnston. 

Several other high schools such as Penn, Elkhart Central, Elkhart Memorial, Lakeshore, Brandywine, South Bend John Adams, Mishawaka, Plymouth, South Bend Riley, South Bend Washington, Buchanan, Marion, Goshen, Concord, Northridge and St. Joseph (Mich). 

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