Parkland Survivors Honor Victims With Music and Art

"Trauma is trauma. No matter what you've gone through." Two Parkland shooting survivors spoke to Brut about finding comfort and healing through music — and how they want to help victims of violence.

Parkland Survivors Shine Through Music

Parkland shooting survivors Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Peña honored the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School through music. They dedicated their song, "Shine," to the 17 students and staff who died in the 2018 massacre. The band incorporated the Instrument of Hope, a trumpet crafted of bullet casings by survivors of the school shooting, into their sold-out performance. The band flew Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Pena, the writers of Shine, and their parents to Brooklyn to attend the concert and meet with the band prior to the show.

The empowering activists also started the nonprofit Shine MSD, which holds a free summer camp for trauma survivors. The Instrument of Hope is on a cross-country tour with famed musicians to revitalize the conversation around gun violence. The trumpet is a project of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, ShineMSD, Level Forward and Publicis New York. ShineMSD is a non-profit organization founded in the aftermath of the shooting, which uses the arts to promote healing for the Parkland community.

“After the shooting at our school on February 14, Andrea and I both felt a lot of the same things. We both felt very lost and very confused, very angry, very sad. And we just we didn't really know what to do with all these emotions and feelings that we were having. We’re not going to let you in. We’re putting up a fight. You may have brought the dark, but together we will shine the light.” the two survivors share.

In June 2019, the two attended a performance of Oklahoma! on Broadway. The show is the first Broadway partner of the Gun Neutral Initiative. For every gun that’s onstage, a donation is made to communities impacted by gun violence. Trauma is trauma. No matter what you've gone through, if it's a school shooting, or if it's that you have experienced violence in your life, or even if you've been bullied too — that's still stuff you have to go through and just allowing kids to know there are healthy ways to cope with it.

Sawyer and Andrea want to use their experience with trauma to help other people heal.