Teens on Target on NPR

Posted: February 20, 2019

Beyond Parkland

NPR speaks with “Oakland Kids Who Experience Gun Violence Every Day”

TNT - Ajahnay Cooper
Ajahnay Cooper. Photo courtesy of James Tensuan, NPR.


Last week, as the country remembered and mourned on the anniversary of the Parkland School shooting, Castlemont students and TNT youth leaders Armon Hurst, Gabriel Patten and Ajahnay Cooper expressed talked about a desire for change. This group knows firsthand the daily weight of violence in their school and community. 

Gabriel Patten. Photo courtesy of James Tensuan, NPR.


With this knowledge, they’ve chosen to go beyond offering words of comfort on board the bandwagon of gun violence as a fleeting news headline. As members of Teens on Target, they serve as role models who speak out and lead a charge for peaceful alternatives among their peers every day. They were featured in an article and on the It’s Been a Minute radio show and podcast.

Hurst, Cooper and Patten, the students at Castlemont High, hope that the Parkland shooting anniversary is a moment for all Americans to think about the ways gun violence affects people in communities like theirs and to look farther than Parkland to see the reality of gun violence all over America.

~ Sam Sanders & Anjuli Sastry, NPR

From the article:

As the nation marks one year since the Parkland school shooting, many Americans are thinking about how the conversation about kids and gun violence has shifted.

In the weeks and months after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students took to the streets and the airwaves to call for fundamental change in America’s gun laws. Stoneman Douglas students and students nationwide rallied in an effort to prevent that kind of massacre from happening again.

And so far in 2019, according to an analysis by Pacific Standard, the 116th Congress has already introduced 33 gun control bills, a number not seen since the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting.

But for some young people, a year’s attention on events like Parkland hasn’t turned into the attention they’re asking for: a spotlight on the everyday gun violence they experience in their neighborhoods.

“We might not see all of our friends die at the same time, but we’re definitely seeing people fade away to the same fate, just on multiple occasions,” says Gabriel Patten, 18, a student at Castlemont High School in East Oakland, Calif. “You’re like, I just hope I make the right decisions today.”

Read the rest of the story, “Far From Parkland Spotlight, Teens in East Oakland Want to Tell Their Stories” here.

Armon Hurst. Photo courtesy of James Tensuan, NPR.


As TNT youth leaders, these students challenge oppressive systems and give voice to the historical lack of media attention paid to schools like theirs and to Oakland communities which have been plagued by violence for years.

Today on the show, we are talking guns and gun violence and how it affects students at schools like Castlemont High all over the country. There is a reason we’re doing this episode now. It’s because of a tragedy at another high school on the other side of the country. It’s been one year since the Parkland shooting. I am sure you still remember it. On February 14, 2018, a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and allegedly began shooting.

Read the transcript and listen to the podcast here.

Also featured in the podcast is UCLA expert Billie Weiss, who explains how program’s like Youth ALIVE!’s Teens on Target and Caught in the Crossfire prevent gun violence and save lives.