11/11/2019 12:00 - United States - (PR Distribution™)

Special collection of songs written by Parkland students amplifies inspirational and emotional voices in wake of mass shootings and nationwide gun violence

The Parkland Project, a special youth-inspired songwriting initiative, has released an emotive slate of songs it was announced today at the National Association for Music Education National Conference. The tracks tell of the surviving students’ deep trauma from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, Feb 14, 2018 and reflect a steadfast commitment to the student-led movements dedicated to stopping the killing of their classmates and peers, and the passing sensible gun laws to do so.

“The Parkland students became an incredibly tight community after the mass shooting,” said Dr. Kathleen D. Sanz, president of the National Association for Music Education.“The students turned to the arts in their despair from the tragedy.  The songs that have been composed, with the extremely moving lyrics, provide for not only a tribute to the fallen students and teachers but also speak to the power of music in healing through artistic expression.”

“Shine MSD believes art-based therapy is highly effective in overcoming trauma caused by gun violence,” said Joe Garrity, president of Shine MSD, Inc.“This project furthered our mission of helping student-survivors find their voice.  We are so thankful to the professional songwriters for donating their time to work with our students.” 

Written and composed by the students of Parkland, Florida, with the guidance of noted songwriters and music producers affiliated with the Operation Respect educational non-profit, the newly released album is Wake Up, America, its title track, followed by compositions Song for the Silenced, Transparent, Valentine’s Day, Change the Ref, We Got the Power, Armor Off, Watering Can Full of Tears, The Children Will Lead the Way and We Need.  The songs are available on all streaming and digital platforms, including Amazon, Spotify and Apple.

The Parkland Project, launched in the wake of the mass shooting which claimed the lives of 17 people and wounded 17 more, is a creative collaboration of student-songwriters, musicians and vocalists from the Parkland community unifying their individual voices in a collective call for action and change.  Widespread trauma in the community remains a significant concern.The student-songwriters of the Parkland Project are committed to fostering personal and community healing, as well as providing a musical voice to the efforts of their schoolmates who have electrified the nation with their courageous speeches and appearances, such as the student-led March for Our Lives.

Proceeds from the songs benefit Shine MSD and Change the Ref, Parkland-based organizations dedicated to proving art-based trauma informed therapy and advocates of gun-violence prevention.

The Parkland Project singers are Lizzie Eaton, Payton Francis, Alissa Law, Sawyer Garrity, Anna Bayuk, Arianna Otero, Andrea Pena, Marisol Garrido, Kendal Rivera, Sofia Rothenberg, Aalayah Florence Yared, Michael Zeif and Sam Zeif. 

“The youth are singing ‘Can you hear us now?’” said Operation Respect Executive Director John McKenna.“Offered today, to everybody, is the incredible opportunity to listen, be moved, inspired, and answer ‘Yes.’”

For more information, please contact:


John McKenna, Operation Respect, jmckenna@operationrespect.org , 866-546-9291

Joe Garrity, Shine MSD, Inc., jgarrity@ShineMSD.org 833-744-6367 ext 500

About The Parkland Project

The Parkland Project is a student-led songwriting initiative launched in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, culminating in the album Wake Up, America, a compelling collection of ten songs composed, written, recorded and performed live by the Parkland students.  Public engagements in 2019 include NEXUS and PeaceCon in Washington, DC, ChildUSA in Philadephia, Conrad Challenge at the Kennedy Space Center and WORLDZ in Southern California where the students received the Nelson Mandela Changemakers Award on behalf of the entire Parkland community.  The Parkland Project songwriters are Lizzie Eaton, Payton Francis, Alissa Law, Sawyer Garrity, Anna Bayuk, Arianna Otero, Andrea Pena, Marisol Garrido, Kendal Rivera, Sofia Rothenberg, Aalayah Florence Yared, Alyssa Fletcher, Michael Zeif and Sam Zeif, with Lu Aya, David Broza, Emanuel Candelerio, Britt Baker-Soleil, Rufus Capadocia, Alison Lewis, Kevin Salem, Keith Secola, Steve Seskin, Lauren Speeth, Matt Takiff, Bethany Yarrow and Peter Yarrow.  The album was produced by Kevin Salem and is distributed by Burnside Records.  The cover art was created by Manuel Oliver.Tracks are available on all streaming and digital platforms, including Apple, Amazon and Spotify.


About Shine MSD

It is during our darkest moments that we shine the light.  Following the tragic mass shooting that took place at Stoneman Douglas High School, the world came to know the students of this high school were a bit different. Some jumped to action in the political arena.  Others turned their efforts toward the arts.Many from both sides had significant roots in the drama department at Stoneman Douglas High School.  Two of those drama students, Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Peña, channeled their pain and anger into writing an original song called Shine days after the tragedy. What started as a personal healing journey quickly grew into an anthem met with an overwhelming response from Parkland and those who saw them perform at the CNN town hall on February 21, 2018.  Sawyer, Andrea, their families and friends realized the power of healing through artistic expression, and the positive impact the arts has in inspiring hope and unity in the aftermath of tragedy.  With that in mind, Shine MSD was born to raise relief funds for victims and their families and provide mental health programs centered around the arts at Stoneman Douglas High School and Parkland.  We anticipate the healing and mental health needs in our community to be a continuous, ongoing effort with the potential to expand the scope of our work to other individuals and communities in need around the world.  www.shinemsd.org

About Change the Ref

Change The Ref (CTR), was formed to empower our Future Leaders.CTR gives the kids of today the tools they need to be empowered to make changes to critical issues that affect our nation, through education, conversation, and activism.  It uses urban art and nonviolent creative confrontation to expose the disastrous effects of the mass shooting pandemic.It also brings focus to the NRA’s corrupt maneuvers to buy lawmakers, while forcing solutions which are essential to healing mass shooting victims’ families’ lifelong grief.  Change The Ref’s ultimate goal is to give the young generation of survivors and victims a disrupting voice to help lead the way to change – a more peaceful future. #NeverAgain.  The loss of 17 lives on February 14th, 2018 at MSD High School in Parkland, Florida due to yet another mass shooting caused a conversation to erupt in our country and around the world and a youth movement to be born.CTR is an organization created to fuel the youth of today, empowering them to lead the way and make impactful changes happen.  Founded in the memory of their son Joaquin who was one of the 17 victims, Manuel and Patricia Oliver are committed to making sure that their son’s life and the lives of the other 16 victims are never forgotten and that real change happens to prevent future tragedies like this from happening ever again.  www.changetheref.org

About Operation Respect 

Operation Respect is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing children and youth educational training and experiences that can help them become compassionate, respectful, ethical and civically engaged adults.  To help create and sustain positive school climates, Operation Respect incorporates Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula blended with community-building music in its free Don’t Laugh at Me program.  Since its inception, over a half-million educators, educational leaders, parents, students, policy makers and community members have attended presentations by Operation Respect leaders.  Operation Respect formed United Voices for Education, a coalition of 42 educational organizations dedicated to advocating for the education of the whole child.  Operation Respect co-produced A Tribute to the Teachers of America and, in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, produced Concert for Newtown to help bring strength and unity to the brave and grieving community of Newtown as well as the nation.Both programs have aired on PBS throughout the United States.  www.operationrespect.org

Media Contacts:

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Operation Respect
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