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Community Conversation: The Impact of Gun Violence on America's Youth
Guns are the number one killer of young people in the United States – every year, 18,000 children and teens are shot and killed or wounded, and approximately 3 million witness an act of gun violence, with Black and Latinx youth bearing the brunt of this crisis. When homes, neighborhoods, and schools are not safe from gun violence, entire generations of American children are affected.

Young people have grown up in the midst of the gun violence epidemic and many are leading the way in advocating for solutions. In this roundtable conversation, young leaders and activists will discuss their perspectives on the challenges and solutions in reducing the traumatic impact of gun violence on America’s youth.

*Can’t join us live? Register now, and we’ll send you an email with a link to view the recording after the event.


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Ashley Castillo, she/her
National Advisory Board Member @Students Demand Action
Ashley is currently a high school senior, founder of the Hollywood High Students Demand Action Chapter, and a National Advisory Board member. Battling constant gun violence since the age of 6, she spends her days advocating for gun violence prevention, through the power of educational policy, screenwriting, and theater. During her spare time, she can be found in the wet lab being a scientific advocate and writing papers. She intends to pursue a dual major in neurobiology and political science.
Taina Patterson, she/her
Survivor Fellow @Students Demand Action
Taina (she/her) is a Student Leader and Survivor Fellow with Students Demand Action in Florida. When Taina was 15-years-old, her mother’s ex-boyfriend came to her house and threatened her family with a gun. Taina and her younger sister hid under the couch. While no gunshots were fired, Taina and her family continue to deal with the aftermath of being threatened by a firearm.
Jakoby Mitchell, he/him
Survivor Fellow @Students Demand Action
I’m Jakoby Mitchell, and I’m from Charleston, South Carolina. I’m currently a full time student at Clemson University studying Biological Science to become a surgeon. I love outdoor activities, spending time with my family and friends, and I also enjoy watching movies. I’m the 2nd oldest of six siblings. Recently I joined Everytown Student Survivor fellow Being a part of this organization has provided such a great opportunity for me to share my story about being a fellow gun violence survivor. On May 24, 2014 my siblings and I experienced my mother being shot in the face due to domestic violence by my brother’s dad. This was such a tragic experience and for a while it caused pain, anger, resentment, and isolation towards people. It wasn’t until I seeked therapy to help me overcome this traumatic event and to be confident in telling the story and how it changed my life for the better.
Marco Vargas, he/him
Managing Partner @Fifth Sun Pictures
Proudly born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, I am a survivor, social entrepreneur, and the Founder of Fifth Sun Pictures, a social impact marketing and consulting company helping nonprofits and enterprises deliver grassroot social impact in low-income communities. In 2018, I started my gun violence prevention advocacy as a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, served on the inaugural Students Demand Action Advisory Board, and Founded Everytown’s Summer Leadership Academy.
Zachary Mallory, they/them
Survivor Fellow @Everytown for Gun Safety
Zachary Mallory is an Everytown Survivor Fellow from Independence, Missouri. They are an LGBTQ+ advocate who focuses on suicide prevention and mental health initiatives, as it relates to gun violence. Zachary is a domestic gun violence survivor and also a suicide attempt survivor with a firearm. Zachary shares their story in hopes to inspire others. They are the State Outreach Lead for the Missouri Moms Demand Action Chapter.