Lakewood students will march in nation's capital to protest gun violence

CLEVELAND - As the chorus for ending gun violence in schools grows, students in one Northeast Ohio city are setting their sights on the nation’s capital.

This week, Lakewood High School students were shocked by the amount of support they received from outside their school, which is now helping to make their protest plans even bigger.

"It affects us personally, and we can't just sit by anymore," said school junior Isabella Bryson.

A new student-led group is giving Lakewood High School students a platform to promote change.

"I've never been afraid to use my voice," said senior Sarah Pepe. "We are young, but we are not going to be silenced any longer."

Pepe and Bryson founded the Student Committee of Activism.

"We just want to inspire other students to maybe follow in our footsteps and try to get their voice out there," Bryson said.

They launched their first project last week.

"I want to go down there to be side-by-side with these kids, in solidarity with them," Pepe said.

They set out to send a handful of classmates to the nation’s capital next weekend.

"To show our legislators that we're not messing around," said Pepe.

With a goal of $500, the group launched a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of bus tickets to the March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

So far, the financial support has been impressive.

"In the past six days, we've raised over $6,000," said Bryson. "I did not expect the outburst of support."

Teachers, community members and businesses have stepped up in a big way.

"It kind of spiraled and now we have our own charter bus," said Bryson.

The money will give about 40 young people from Northeast Ohio the chance to bring their battle for safer schools to the national level.

"Our community really wants them to have a voice. That's exactly what we want for our future, no matter what their opinions are we want them to feel like they can express themselves," said Sarah Kepple, Action Together Lakewood Area.

The community support is giving these students even more confidence they can change the world.

"It makes my heart full honestly to see that we can do something. I was really, really concerned for a while that we weren't going to make it," said Pepe.

For now, the Student Committee of Activism at Lakewood High School will focus on gun violence because it's at the forefront right now.

Student organizers told News 5 they want to focus on other movements in the future.

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