High school students host day of fun for Uvalde school shooting survivors
The Survivors United Playdate featured limbo races and fun for kids in Uvalde.
A group of students who survived a shooting at their high school last year recently traveled more than 1,000 miles to Uvalde, Texas, to help bring joy to students there who survived a mass shooting at their elementary school in May.
Students from Michigan's Oxford High School played games such as soccer and limbo and did art projects including making tie-dyed t-shirts with students from Robb Elementary School at the first-ever Survivors United Playday.
The event was held on Saturday, just a few days before Thanksgiving, which marks six months since the May 24 Robb Elementary shooting. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in that shooting.
The playday was an important opportunity for the shooting survivors to be kids again, according to Gladys Gonzalez, whose daughter Caitlyne hid in a classroom across the hall from where the shooting took place.
"Our whole lives changed because of it," Gonzalez told "Good Morning America," adding that Caitlyne has struggled with anxiety and depression and has had difficulty sleeping since the shooting.
"Her being able to be a kid, having her play around, jump around, face painting, that means a lot," said Gonzalez. "We appreciate everything that the Oxford community has done for Uvalde."
The playdate was the brainchild of Zoe Touray, an 18-year-old who survived the Nov. 30, 2021, shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford Township, Michigan. Four students were killed and seven people were hurt in the shooting.
"I have found so much comfort in meeting other survivors and being able to talk to them," Touray told "GMA." "So that's what kind of sparked this event."
The playdate was designed to resemble an elementary school field day, complete with relay races and games, according to Touray.
"It's to try to remember what it was like to be normal kids back when, just because they've lost so much so young," she said, adding, "I'm just hoping they take away kind of like a big brother, big sister type of vibe, hopefully they can reach out to me on FaceTime and have a big sister who is going through the same thing."
Touray, who has since graduated from Oxford High School, partnered on the event with more than one dozen current students who together founded the Oxford Legacy Foundation.
"It helps with feeling supported and loved, which is why we're really here today, to give back what we felt in our community to another community," said Gavin, one of the Oxford students who traveled to Uvalde.
And even though the two towns are far apart, the students said the playdate gave them a firsthand view of the similarities between them.
"It brings back a lot of memories because you see the Uvalde Strong signs around the town here and it really just kicks back to when everything happened with us, and you saw the Oxford Strong signs everywhere," Adnan, an Oxford student who traveled to Uvalde, told "GMA." "It just really feels similar."
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