On The Day Of The National School Walkout, Kids Are Challenged To 'Walk Up Not Out'

The countermovement is in response to calls for a student walkout on March 14.

Recent school shootings, particularly the one that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., have galvanized students and many across the country to take a stand against gun violence. On March 14, the one-month mark since the Stoneman Douglas shooting, Women's March Youth Empower has organized the ENOUGH! National School Walkout, which encourages students, teachers, parents, administrators and more to stage a walkout in remembrance of the tragedy's victims and to take a stand against gun violence. However, rather than encourage students to walk out in protest, some have begun using the hashtag #WalkUpNotOut on social media to encourage another way for students to get involved.

With the hashtag, social media users are advocating that, rather than walk out in protest, students should show kindness to those in their schools who might feel isolated or unheard, with some suggesting that the seemingly small gesture just might make the difference in stopping a potential school shooter. Many people, including educators, have reposted a statement saying they "challenge students to find 14 students and 3 adults to walk up to and say something nice" in memory of Parkland's 17 victims.

Though there's no single person attributed with starting the counter-movement, according to Quartz, it may have been inspired by a Facebook post from retired Texas teacher David Blair.

"Don't trust that walking out of school will bring an answer," Blair wrote in the February 19 post. "Gun control or more laws is not, and will not, be the answer. You are the answer. Your greeting, your smile, your gentle human touch is the only thing that can change the world of a desperate classmate who may be contemplating something as horrendous as a school shooting. Look past yourself and look past your phone and look into the eyes of a student who no one else sees."

Quartz reports that Blair's attitude toward the student-led protest has changed, but that hasn't stopped the overall sentiment #WalkUpNotOut from gaining momentum. In Klamath Falls, Ore., three high schools are participating in the endeavor and will stage assemblies to speak with students about the Florida school shooting and other issues that are affecting students, according to Klamath Falls News. The assemblies will also have symbolic tributes to the February 14 shooting's victims. 

Some parents have also embraced the idea, even going as far as to write kind and inspirational sayings on pieces of paper for children to hand out to other students. 

While there are obviously good intentions behind #WalkUpNotOut, not everyone is a fan of it being painted as a "positive" response to the planned student walkout. "How about do your walkout on March 14 since things absolutely need to be addressed in this country regarding gun violence," New Jersey radio host Jeff Deminski wrote about the social media campaign. "And save the feel good walking up to the shy lonely kids for every other day of the year, not just one day. It's what should be happening anyway."

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