Nevada County eighth grader advocates for change by making T-shirts opposing gun violence | TheUnion.com

Nevada County eighth grader advocates for change by making T-shirts opposing gun violence

The nationwide student-led school walkout on March 14 in protest of gun violence was yet another example of a long tradition of youth activism calling for societal change. Be it the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street in 2011, Seattle in the '90s, the Palestinian uprising in the '80s, Soweto in the '70s or the Civil Rights movement in the '60s, young people are often the first ones to speak out when established political structures appear to be obsolete or broken.

In Nevada County, teens at more than five schools participated in the 17-minute National School Walkout, but not all students were convinced that a walkout was the best way to shine a light on the problem of gun violence.

Lizzie Baucum, an eighth grader at Seven Hills School in Nevada City, opted not to walk out on March 14, as she said it sent the wrong message. Instead, she's started her own anti-violence campaign in the form of T-shirts. Two of her T-shirts are now for sale online at Etsy, each with its own message: "#IDeserveToBeSafeAtSchool" and "#WalkUpNotOut."

"I don't think that taking away people's guns or raising the age for gun ownership is necessarily the way to deal with it," she said. "But I also don't think teachers should be armed. Having a gun in the classroom creates danger. More guns at school just means more problems."

Part of Baucum's message echoes that of Ryan Petty, the father of one of the students killed in last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His sentiment has since been coined "Walk up, not out."

"Instead of walking out of school in March 14, encourage students to walk up," he posted on Twitter prior the March 14 event. "Walk up to the kid who sits alone at lunch and invite him to sit with your group; walk up to the kid who sits quietly in the corner of the room and sit next to her. … Walk up to your teachers and thank them; walk up to someone who has different views than you and get to know them — you may be surprised at how much you have in common."

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T-shirts are $10 each and the proceeds will also help pay for Baucum's travel expenses with her girls' fastpitch softball team, the Batbusters. Upcoming tournaments are scheduled in Florida and The Netherlands.

"I think it's good that kids are taking a stand because we're the target, we're directly affected by this," said Baucum. "Don't wait for someone else to take action — you can never assume someone else will make things better. It's clear that this time the kids need to step up."

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.

To purchase a T-shirt with the message “#IDeserveToBeSafeAtSchool” or “#WalkUpNotOut,” visit https://www.etsy.com/shop/TshirtsWithTopic. Proceeds help pay overseas travel expenses for a member of the Batbusters, a girls’ fast pitch softball team.