PARKLAND, Fla. – Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Peña spent their summer helping classmates cope with the trauma and loss experienced during the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The two turned to writing and composing the song “Shine” and found the healing power of creativity.
After performing the song at a town hall and at the “March for Our Lives” event in Washington, D.C., the girls co-founded “Shine MSD,” a non-profit that put on a free summer camp for MSD students.
“Art is the basis of how we feel and how we think and it allows us to express ourselves in ways that we didn’t know it was possible,” Garrity said.
The girls teamed up with therapists, who work in the arts, to offer students an opportunity to express themselves through the arts. There were three two-week therapeutic sessions with more than 30 students.
“Doing the camp right now is super important, because within the first 6 months is the best time to reach out to victims and to get them into some sort of therapy,” said Angela Malley, the co-director of Camp Shine.
Manuel Oliver used a graffiti class as a way to honor his son Joaquin Oliver, who was killed in the shooting. The camp also allowed graduates a way to give back to their Parkland community.
“That’s the main message of the song and that what we want to give back, so using that foundation and channeling into something we can give back to the community was the goal for me,” Peña said.
For more information about Camp Shine, visit the program's website.