Desmond Tutu Awards Parkland Shooting Survivors With Peace Prize

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On Valentine’s Day this year, Nikolas Cruz opened fire on the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since that terrible day, some of the survivors of the shooting started a country-wide movement to advocate for better gun control laws.

For their efforts, those students have now been awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize on Tuesday in Cape Town by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, according to NBC News.

While presenting the award at the ceremony in South Africa, Tutu called the student organization March For Our Lives “one of the most significant youth-led mass movements in living memory and its founders true change-makers.”

“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.”

The shooting claimed the lives of 17 students and staff members, and caused another injuries to 17 more on the campus. In the aftermath, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Delaney Tarr, Ryan Deitsch, and Jaclyn Corin, as well as more than a dozen others, sprang into action in an effort to prevent a similar situation from ever happening again to any other students across the country in other schools.

The group has traveled across the country sharing their message, speaking at rallies and to the media and lawmakers. Their tour has sparked a number of major walkouts and peaceful protests in schools across the U.S.

One of the lead students of the movement, Matt Deitsch, had two younger siblings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the time of the shooting. He was a college student who immediately left university to help the March For Our Lives.

Hogg, Gonzalez, Corin, and the Deitsch brothers traveled to South Africa to accept the award from Archbishop Tutu. Gonzalez said that the award “serves as a major reminder that the universe is on the side of justice and that we will win because our cause is one of peace.”

Manuel Oliver, the father of one of the victims of the shooting, also spoke during the award ceremony in Cape Town. Two students from another movement, Chicago Strong, were also in attendance. Chicago Strong is a similar movement to March For Our Lives, and has worked closely with the Parkland students.

The March For Our Lives movement has gained international attention in the past few months, and has raised millions of dollars with the backing of celebrities.