On Feb. 14, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost 17 victims to a tragic mass shooting.
In the days and weeks afterward, as students and families grieved and returned to class, many of the teens who attend the Parkland, Florida, high school have been speaking out about their experiences and demanding there be changes in gun safety legislation so that something like this can never happen again.
As part of a social media initiative called #whatif, photojournalist Jeff Vespa captured some students’ heart-wrenching tales of survival — and their determination to create a future free of gun violence.
Their powerful words and portraits are featured in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Watch more Voices of Parkland Survivors on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device.
Eden Hebron, a 14-year-old freshman at Parkland during the shooting, will never forget seeing the bodies of her dead friends.
“There’s glass all over, there’s glass in front of me. I look over, it’s all over the entire room, and he starts shooting my classmates,” she says in the video above. “When you’re hearing gunshots, all you can think about is — ‘I’m next.’ I was thinking like, ‘This is my last moment. These are literally my last minutes of life.’ ”
The teens have planned the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on March 24 to demand changes in gun legislation and already the event has expanded to include more than 400 related demonstrations in cities across the globe.