Uvalde school shooting survivors tell their stories through photos

The project is part of Uvalde:365, ABC News' yearlong series in Uvalde.

December 16, 2022, 3:00 PM

Eight young survivors of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, joined ABC News to help tell their stories in the wake of the tragedy.

In a series of workshops, they learned the fundamentals of photography – starting with the technical operation of their cameras and ending with advice on how to visualize and capture their emotions through photos.

PHOTO: Daniel at El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2022.
Daniel at El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2022. (Photo by Mario)
Photo by Mario

Their images showcased their lives by focusing on what people, places and things mean the most to them. Portraits of their parents and pets and close-ups of memorials around town demonstrated what the children say makes them feel safe, makes them feel happy and who they look up to.

"I've never had one of these things before. It's a cool experience," Noah, 10, said about using his camera.

An added bonus to the project – the students said they forged new friendships with the other students through the monthlong experience based out of the El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde.

"I love being with everybody," said Athena, 9. "Most of all, like, to me, I like meeting new people."

PHOTO: Seated: L-R Mario, Samuel, Noah, Daniel. 2nd row: L-R Athena, Mehle, Madison. Khloie was absent the final weekend.
Seated: L-R Mario, Samuel, Noah, Daniel. 2nd row: L-R Athena, Mehle, Madison. Khloie was absent the final weekend.
Radhika Chalasani/ABC News

The children of Uvalde who participated in the photography project described their hometown, outside San Antonio, in many different ways -- "fun," "nice," "busy" and "small." When asked to capture what Uvalde means to them through their photography, they visited places where the community congregates most – schools, libraries and the memorials honoring the victims of the shooting.

Khloie, 11, said she believes Uvalde deserves to be seen as the joyful place that it is, despite the tragedy that it has become known for. "Uvalde is a really fun place, even though there's been a lot going on through the past few months," she said. "It's really cool. And I think people should come visit more often."

PHOTO: A woman waves at a bus in downtown Uvalde, Texas, on Oct. 14, 2022. Daniel's older brother John was going to a band competition in San Antonio and people gathered to wish the team luck and show their support.
A woman waves at a bus in downtown Uvalde, Texas, on Oct. 14, 2022. Daniel's older brother John was going to a band competition in San Antonio and people gathered to wish the team luck and show their support. (Photo by Daniel)
Photo by Daniel
PHOTO: Painted stones that read "Uvalde Strong" sit outside El Progreso Library in Uvalde, Texas, on Oct. 16, 2022.
Painted stones that read "Uvalde Strong" sit outside El Progreso Library in Uvalde, Texas, on Oct. 16, 2022. "Uvalde Strong" is a phrase adopted by the community in the wake of the May 24 shooting. (Photo by Madison)
Photo by Madison

Families, and the memories they make together, are important pillars for the children of Robb.

When the children were asked about what makes them happy, many of them responded by listing members of their family.

"I love that I have a big family and they're caring. They always like to help people," said Madison, 10.

PHOTO: Madison is seen looking at a display of origami cranes at El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2022.
Madison is seen looking at a display of origami cranes at El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2022. (Photo by Mehle)
Photo by Mehle
PHOTO: Khloie's mom, Jamie, holds Khloie's dog, Brownie, at a family member’s house on Sept. 25, 2022.
Khloie's mom, Jamie, holds Khloie's dog, Brownie, at a family member’s house on Sept. 25, 2022. "I want to tell people that not to be afraid too much because you know, there's always a friend like my mom," Khloie said. (Photo by Khloie)
Photo by Khloie

Happiness for the children in Uvalde takes many shapes.

Noah, 10, said he finds comfort in drawing, playing video games and watching TV.

"They just make me feel relaxed," he said.

For Daniel, 10, a photo of his mom and his little brother and sister together represents what made him happy.

PHOTO: Athena's two friends, Joy and Velen, play with a pompom at her brother's football game in Uvalde, Texas, on Oct. 21, 2022.
Athena's two friends, Joy and Velen, play with a pompom at her brother's football game in Uvalde, Texas, on Oct. 21, 2022. The girls were talking about cheerleading, as Athena is a gymnast and is learning to perfect her cartwheel skills. (Photo by Athena)
Photo by Athena
PHOTO: A butterfly is seen in this photo taken on Oct. 15, 2022.
A butterfly is seen in this photo taken on Oct. 15, 2022. (Photo by Noah)
Photo by Noah

As the children of Robb look for some kind of normalcy following the May 24 tragedy, many of them have sought out safe places or people to lean on in the process.

For Noah, it's the constant company of the two parakeets he cares for in his bedroom. "The blue one is named Rico and the green one was named Saul," he said.

Madison said she feels safe when she's at church praying with her family. "Because I can talk to God. And I know I am safe there," she said.

PHOTO: Noah's parakeets, Saul, left, and Rico, right, are seen in his room at his home in Uvalde, Texas, on Oct. 22, 2022
Noah's parakeets, Saul, left, and Rico, right, are seen in his room at his home in Uvalde, Texas, on Oct. 22, 2022. (Photo by Noah)
Photo by Noah
PHOTO: Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, is seen on Oct. 1, 2022.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, is seen on Oct. 1, 2022. Madison took this photo because "it makes me feel safe because I know that God is with me." The cross outside the church is decorated with ribbons, which each have words written on them as a message to victims and survivors from Robb Elementary. (Photo by Madison)
Photo by Madison

This is just one part of ABC News' Uvalde:365 project, a yearlong series about how the community is recovering following the tragedy.

For a look at how the children turned from students to photojournalists, watch the video above.

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