How one community member paid it forward for 642 students.
Written for David Blair, Fortune 500 businessman and candidate for County Executive in Montgomery County, Maryland
Across the United States, young people are leading the charge in galvanizing public support for gun control. So when students decided to walk out of class for a National Walkout in response to the Parkland shooting, I was compelled to act.
I’m a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, Maryland. I attended school here; my wife and I are raising our children here. One of the many things I love about this community is the level of youth engagement in important local and national issues, as well as our community’s commitment to giving back to others.
Student activists at each of the 25 Montgomery County Public High Schools formed a group called MoCo Students For Gun Control to advocate for common sense gun control laws and a ban on assault rifles.
Their message is simple: every student should feel safe going to school.
With their protest at the US Capitol quickly approaching, I was inspired by their work, their dedication and their resolve to get involved. But there were students who would not be able to participate simply because they couldn’t afford the metro fare to get to the Capitol.
Providing safe pathways through public transportation for these students would allow me to pay it forward. So, I offered the funds for 500 students to receive a free metrocard and fare to the White House to have their voice heard. I made sure volunteers walked with the students down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol building. Our team also helped them register to vote.
Over the last five years, there have been more than 200 school shootings in America. One shooting is too many. Guns have no place in our schools. They only increase the risk for tragedy and won’t keep our kids safe. Maryland has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, yet the state doesn’t extend gun regulatory power to local governments.
It’s important for every student to participate in democracy, but for many high school students the cost of just simply getting there would have prevented them from walking with their peers. The students below are just a few of those who took part in the walkout. I am proud to have supported these students in saying enough is enough and helping make their voice heard. We all have a responsibility to take part in the system, it’s never too early to start… and sometimes the youngest voices are the loudest voices.