CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the correct location for the March 24 March for Our Lives event in Albuquerque.
Large crowds are tricky for 17-year-old Jessica Barresi.
Barresi, a Digital Arts and Technology Academy student, lives with anxiety. While she has seen improvements in recent years, masses of people still create uneasiness, making her feel nervous and small.
But she’s keeping those gnawing feelings at bay with the goal of giving DATA, a tuition-free public charter school, and New Mexico a voice in a national gun control debate.
Barresi, along with a group of about 20 students and three teachers, is aiming to join hundreds of thousands marching in Washington, D.C., on March 24 for the March for Our Lives event.
“On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington, D.C. to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today,” the March for Our Lives website describes the event.
The march was launched in the wake of the 17 deaths in Parkland, Fla., after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month.
“We feel it’s really important, especially for a small state like us who tends not to do much about it, to not particularly share one opinion but getting a whole group of different voices to start conversations,” Barresi said.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students are among those expected to attend the March for Our Lives.
“I would go up and hug them right away,” she said about what she’d do if she ran into the students.
The Parkland shooting shocked DATA and put students on edge, Barresi recalled.
“Our school has had threats before,” she said. “It was something that hit home for us.” The high-schoolers are working to raise $25,000 to get the group to D.C. The deadline for the funding is Friday. Donate at gofundme.com/datatodc.
Barresi said DATA CEO Evalynne Hunemuller and principal Lisa Myhre had the idea to start DATA’s GoFundMe, which shows the group had raised $3,240 as of Wednesday afternoon. If the group doesn’t raise all the money, organizers will send as many people as they can.
“There’s a lot of people, because we are teenagers, they think we really don’t have a voice,” she said.
Barresi hopes this trip is a chance to refute those ideas, saying the group is taught government in school and has the ability to speak well on the topic.
“It’s very important to me to try to push my civil participation,” she said.
Barresi, who already has registered to vote, said she feels this trip could help her make more informed decisions as she gears up to vote in her first presidential election in the coming years.
The main march is taking place in Washington, but hundreds of events are taking place worldwide on the same day in solidarity.
The March for Our Lives website shows four marches planned for New Mexico. In Albuquerque, a march is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Tiguex Park in Old Town.