Chicago teens travel to Parkland to meet with school shooting survivors

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The school shooting in Florida united Parkland survivors with Chicago students who live with violence on a regular basis. They may come from different backgrounds, but they have a common goal.

It was a meeting of teens from different communities, of different backgrounds, but connected by clear purpose.

"I hope that people around the world will hear our voice and that we need this change to come," said Vashon Edmondson, who met with students in Parkland.

Edmonson, 17, and Trinity Cole-Reid were among half a dozen young people from Chicago who traveled to Parkland, Fla., over the weekend.

The meeting was arranged by former Chicago Public Schools CEO and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. They met with Duncan Monday, upon their return.

"Did you guys feel safe there? Let down your guard or not really?" Duncan asked them.

"Yeah," Cole-Reid answered.

The Florida meeting was held at the home of student activist Emma Gonzalez.

"Even though we face different types of gun violence, we all feel the same way after having experienced it," Gonzalez said, as seen on cell phone video of the meeting.

"I think that they could tell that we have been dealing with this violence issue for a long time and that we wanted to help and that our voices weren't being heard," Cole-Reid said.

The meeting is something of a prelude to a pair of national events: a national school walkout on March 14 and a rally in Washington, D.C., on March 24.

Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham is organizing buses to take kids to D.C. for the rally.

"The young people are standing up. They're strong. They're shouting. They're not going to turn around. They've got the energy. They've got the passion," Pfleger said.

Some of the teens who traveled to Florida over the weekend said they are planning to attend the rally. They also extended an invitation to the Parkland students to visit Chicago.

From south Florida to the South Side of Chicago, these two groups of young people are vowing to work together on gun control reform.
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