By Sarina D. ’19
You’re never too young get a personalized note from your Congresswoman. Or at least that’s the lesson that sophomore Amrita Sangani learned last week when she came home to a letter from Congresswoman Eshoo thanking her for her contributions to the Since Parkland journalism project. Since Parkland was an endeavour enacted by the Miami Herald and The Trace, an American non-profit journalist outlet devoted to gun-related news in the United States. For the project, Director Akoto Ofori-Atto worked with 200 teen journalists from around the country who wrote obituaries for nearly 1,200 child victims of shootings since the Parkland shooting, with the ultimate goal of spreading awareness about the devastating effects of gun violence. Last Summer, Amrita was attending a program at Stanford when the director of the projected visited and told her about this project. As a passionate gun-control activist and writer, Amrita jumped at the chance to bring awareness to an important issue while getting to work on her writing with hundreds of other eager and motivated students.
Once she signed onto the project, Amrita was assigned three victims from the gun violent archives: Janaya Z. Swain, Keyaris Samuels, and Raymond Phillips Jr. Her task was as follows: write a 100-word-story with a 6 word title on each child that you are assigned to. But this endeavour didn’t just take creativity and good writing. It took research, and lot’s of it. Amrita sifted through news articles, reached out to interview grandparents and parents, and even looked at police reports to get even a glimpse into the lives and stories of the children who were murdered on
But Amrita’s assignment was especially challenging. Janaya Z. Swain, the youngest of the three victims Amrita was assigned to, was just four-years-old when she died. “I couldn’t write about her hobbies or interests or classmates,” she told us. “So I had to focus on the balloons and teddy bears at her memorial. It’s crazy to think that a four year old could be robbed of her life just because of a stray bullet.”
While Amrita worked alone to do her research and writing, she received help from the editors of the Trace project, and from the other teen journalists on the journey with her. “We would FaceTime and Zoom,” she said with a smile. “It taught me a lot of communication skills and it was great to connect with like minded individuals around the country.”
Though the project is finished, Amrita’s work isn’t done. She is passionate about gun control, and hopes to continue to use the power of her writing to put a face to the victims of this polarizing political debate and work towards an America in which what happened in Parkland never happens again.
And her favorite part? “Knowing that I am conveying the stories of other children who have lost their lives.”
Want to read Amrita’s writing? You can go to https://sinceparkland.org/authors/amrita-sangani/ to find the three obituaries specifically written by Amrita, or go to www.sinceparkland.org to read more!