Parkland Shooting Survivor Sam Fuentes on the New Documentary 'Us Kids'
Sam Fuentes, 20, is one of the survivors of the 2o18 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which former student Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and injured 17 others. "I still unfortunately live in fear," she tells People CHICA. "You never think that you're going to be a victim of gun violence until you are. Every day I'm reminded of this terrible tragedy and I have to navigate through a world that is full of triggers that bring me back to that moment."
Now, Fuentes — along with other Parkland survivors like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg — is part of the documentary Us Kids by filmmaker Kim Snyder, premiering October 30. "Us Kids really is a passion project," Fuentes says. "It's a coming-of-age story that follows a series of youth activists who are trying to make a difference in the gun violence prevention fight." The documentary shows how young gun violence survivors have been able to overcome their traumas and heal, as well as become activists who demand change. "It really humanizes the issue," she says. "It's something that will affect everyone."
Us Kids chronicles the March for Our Lives from the point of view of teenage activists involved in an unprecedented youth movement that demands social justice and real political change to prevent gun violence. "I find healing through work, through activism," Fuentes says.
Although she has scars and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, she has a found a way to rebuild her life after undergoing therapy and is now a college student. "More than anything I was angry about what happened and I wanted to find a way to honor my friends I had lost," she says. "It's definitely a struggle, but when you have a good support system that helps."
Fuentes, who is now an activist and public speaker, is also encouraging her peers to vote in the 2020 election. "It's important to be involved," she says. "We have to vote for representatives that won't put our lives at stake. We're voting for our lives at this point." What else can be done? "The gun issue seems to be a state-to-state issue and there needs to be a way to have legislation passed on a federal level so that we can make major improvements," she explains. "We need background checks, mental health checks."
Us Kids is kicking off its launch tomorrow, October 24, with the Vote With Us Virtual Rally, a national get-out-the-vote campaign to educate, motivate, and mobilize young people and communities of color to vote early. The event will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, streaming at votewith.us and simulcast on YouTube. Immediately following the rally, Us Kids will be stream exclusively on YouTube for free through the weekend.
"My activism is a way to memorialize those who have lost their lives to gun violence, those who I knew personally and hundreds of thousands of people who died of violent crimes," Fuentes says. "These are all people I fight for. I do it because there are people who are dead who cannot, so I do it for them."