From survivor to activist: Girl, 12, who was saved by her teacher during Sandy Hook massacre joins March For Our Lives protest after being inspired by Parkland students
PUBLISHED MARCH 25, 2018
She has been a school shooting survivor for half her life, and now Lauren Milgram is becoming an activist.
Lauren, 12, was in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut when 20 children and six adults were killed in one of the worst school shootings in history.
And on Saturday Lauren became one of the 800,000 who marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC to fight for stricter gun laws.
Lauren's life was saved by her first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis, who hid her and 15 other students in a tiny bathroom off their classroom on December 14, 2012.
Now Lauren and her 15-year-old brother Dalton, a fellow Sandy Hook survivor, are marching for lives - and hoping to save them as well.
'I'm marching because I don't want this to happen to any other children,' she told CNN.
'We can't keep living like this. It should've happened a long time ago...after all these shootings, there really should have been change.'
Lauren said she has been inspired by the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre in Parkland, Florida, who organized March For Our Lives.
'It's amazing that the Parkland students are doing it already,' she said. 'They're so ahead in this generation, at this age they're making such a big difference.'
Speaking out was not something that Lauren could do five years ago, as she was forced to grapple with the loss of friends like a boy named Daniel Barden.
To this day Lauren still wears a heart necklace that Barden gifted her before that tragic day.
Lauren's parents said they have likewise been inspired by the Parkland students, who have helped motivate them to join the protest.
'These Parkland kids, my hats off to them,' Eric Milgram told CNN. 'My kids sadly weren't old enough to speak out.'
'But we, as parents, I won't say that we failed them, but we were too polite to speak out. These Parkland kids, they will not be silenced they will not be muzzled.'
Lauren, Dalton, and their parents boarded a bus from Newtown at 5am to reach the rally, carrying signs that read 'Enough'.
Among the 800,000 people in Washington DC were more than 400 students, teachers, and parents from Newtown.
Some carried signs that read 'I am a Sandy Hook survivor', while others simply wrote 'Am I next?' or 'PTSD'.
Matthew Soto, whose sister Victoria was one of the six educators killed during the massacre, told the crowd: 'This is not okay. We do not have to live like this'.
Soto paid tribute to his sister, a first grade teacher, and then spoke directly to the Parkland survivors, according to BBC.
'We know your pain,' he said. 'We know what you are going through and we are inspired by your fight for change.'
'We need to use our voices because we cannot change the past, we can only fight to change and build a better future.'
Tommy Murray, now a junior at Newtown High School, also spoke at the rally and lamented that nothing has changed in the five years since the tragedy.
'I have attended vigils, I have protested in front of the gun lobby in our town, I have sent letters to Congress,' Murray said.
'I traveled to DC to meet with Congress to beg them to do something to stop gun violence. But they did nothing.'