The Road to Change Tour
By: Lexa Bender
This summer was one for the books—the history books. I was lucky enough to be granted the opportunity to join the resilient activists of March for Our Lives on their summer trip, which was driven by the intention of turning tragedy into change. I packed my bags for an eight-week experience, not fully knowing what to expect, but ready to be a support for whatever was to come. Despite the heinous act that happened at their school, the students never stopped pushing forward, keeping me constantly amazed.
During the Road to Change tour, I was able to share an unforgettable journey with students and alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Through this experience, I witnessed both pain and growth. The pain of the shooting will remain in the lives of the students, alumni, families, teachers, friends—the list goes on. That is not to overshadow the resilience that is also present, however. Strength and perseverance seem to be slowly replacing the rough edges of grief and anger. Even joy was found in the most painful of circumstances.
Along the tour, I met people both directly and indirectly affected by the shooting on February 14, 2018. The sense of community and support that the students were greeted with wherever they went was beautiful to witness. As a counselor, I am aware of the powerful effects of a strong support system, and I was able to watch theirs grow by the day.
After I returned home, I took some time to think about all that I gained from my experience this summer. The overarching theme that I took away from the tour is that there is hope in any circumstance. There is hope in this moment, hope for the future, and hope in one another. People of all backgrounds and histories hold the quality of resilience, which can never be taken away. As humans, we have all experienced trauma, whether big or small—yet, we all have the ability to make meaning in our lives. Although the students’ lives may not look like how they had pictured it, they are discovering a new direction that feels right for them.
I will forever be grateful for this summer—the people I got to know, the places I went, and the personal growth I experienced. I will take what I have gained and use it to be the best counselor I can be for my clients. Together we can turn tragedy into change.