Memorializing the 37 children who were gunned down in school-related shootings, the 2018 Yearbook hopes to spur lawmakers to take action on gun violence
This is a yearbook no one wants to be in.
It’s also the yearbook that could help prevent yet another school shooting.
On Thursday, Scarlett Lewis of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, who lost her son in the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre; activist Julia Cordover, who was class president at the time of the 2018 Parkland shooting; and the nonprofit organizations Amani Projects, COMMON and Search For Common Ground announced the debut of “The 2018 Yearbook.”
The sobering Yearbook memorializes the 37 children who were victims of gun violence at K-12 schools, universities, and in school vehicles during school hours or events in 2018.
Each victim is remembered with an empty yearbook photo alongside his or her name.
“As a society, we’ve actually been making this yearbook for decades, we just didn’t realize it,” Alex Bogusky, founder of COMMON, says in a statement given exclusively to PEOPLE.
“Using the normally innocent and hopeful form of a yearbook, a book that should be about graduation and commencement, to capture this tragedy is an attempt to jar us all out of our complacency,” he says.
Starting tomorrow, organizers will begin sending copies to members of the U.S. Senate, state governors, 2020 Presidential candidates and President Donald Trump.
They want to make sure the lawmakers receive their Yearbooks before the 7th anniversary of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14 — a tragedy that claimed the lives of six educators and 20 first-graders, including Lewis’ son, Jesse, 7.
The organizers plan to start a Twitter campaign to engage the politicians about the Yearbook to bring “attention to an ongoing tragedy,” they say in their statement.
“The time has come for each of us to be part of the solution when we know the question is not if, but when there will be another tragedy,” Lewis says in the statement.
“It is one thing to empathize with the victims and feel their pain, but quite another to actively do something to keep our kids safe. 2018 was the deadliest year on record for school shootings. The yearbook is a physical reminder that we are accountable for our children’s safety and a call to uphold that responsibility.”
The Yearbook will not be made available to the public, but organizers will kick off a public exhibition of the Yearbook on Wednesday, December 11, at the DUMBO Building in Brooklyn at 126 Front Street.
The exhibition, which runs from Dec. 11 through Dec. 29, includes a timeline of the school shootings that took place in 2018 and a chance to view the 2018 Yearbook.
Visitors will have the opportunity to share their thoughts about the Yearbook’s message — and learn about other organizations that “can help turn their pain and anger into action,” the statement says.
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Cordover’s cousin, Andrew Goldin, came up with the concept of The Yearbook. “It came to life with the help of Bogusky. Lewis, Cordover and Amani Projects quickly joined the initiative with the common goal of bringing much-needed attention to an ongoing tragedy,” the statement says.
“Gun violence in schools is a national epidemic, as the shocking number of gun-related incidents in 2018 plainly shows,” the organizers say. “114 children and adults were shot, killed or injured at American schools during the year alone.
“The acceptable amount is zero, yet these numbers continue to grow.”
Organizers hope The 2018 Yearbook will help stop gun violence in schools and everywhere, says Lewis.
For more information, visit www.the2018yearbook.com.