Although classes have resumed as usual in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it would be a stretch to say that Adam Buchwald’s life has gone back to normal.
After the mass shooting on the school’s campus that left 17 students and staff members dead and an entire community forever changed, teenage survivors like Buchwald have sprung into action. Some, like seniors David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, have become some of the most visible faces of the gun control movement. Meanwhile, others have organized political marches around the state, with a larger march planned for March 24 in Washington, D.C.
As his peers confronted politicians and rallied a nation, Buchwald — a junior who wore an “MSD Strong” T-shirt on the day he was interviewed — told Mic that he and a friend tried to brainstorm other pathways to political change.
“My friend Zach Hibshman and I were literally sitting on the couch, and after the media news left, we were wondering, what can we do to make a change?” he said in the living room of his parents’ home in Heron Bay, Florida. “We understand that our fellow classmates are in Tallahassee marching, but we wanted to do something different.”
Called Parents Promise to Kids, the rudimentary contract that Buchwald and Hibshman have drawn up is simple: Parents sign a document promising to only vote for politicians who prioritize the safety of their children over gun ownership.
Once parents have signed the document, a popular next step is for them to pose for a picture with it. Because like so many of the Parkland teens, Buchwald and Hibshman are adept at social media, a search for “PPTK” on Twitter now turns up hundreds of images of smiling adults posing with the document.
“We’ve been getting pictures [from] all around the world — from Florida to New York to New Jersey,” Buchwald said. “Even out of the country, we’ve seen stuff from Australia, Greece. It’s been just so amazing to see that we’ve started this contract in Parkland and that it is spreading across the nation.”
In a bizarre twist of fate, the Buchwald family is no stranger to tragedies like the Parkland shooting. Before the family had settled into the cozy gated community off Florida’s eastern coastline in which they now live, they had been living up north in Weston, Connecticut. The town sits next to Newtown, Connecticut, where 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between the ages of six and seven years old in December 2012.
“At the time of Sandy Hook, I was in middle school,” Buchwald said. “Being a junior at Stoneman Douglas now, I can relate to both, and it was just very scary for me.”
Since the shooting, an energized cohort of newly minted teen activists has been forced to watch as politicians in their home state voted down an assault weapons ban and passed a legislative package in the Senate that bears their high school’s name, but does little to support their political agenda.
As Buchwald sat at home running through a lengthy to-do list — which included items like “reach out to influential people” and “respond to emails” — his mother bustled around him, setting out snacks for his interviewers and reminding him about his upcoming ACT test prep.
In Parkland, the kids may not be alright — but at least they’re not alone.