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Parkland survivor offers teens advice at Mass. safety summit following Texas school shooting

Aliyah Vazquez spoke to Massachusetts teens on Wednesday.

Following the devastating shooting at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday which took the lives of at least 19 children and two adults, how do those affected, and their parents, begin to navigate the uncertain landscape of their futures?

Aliyah Vazquez, a survivor of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is uniquely, and heartbreakingly, equipped to offer advice to survivors of school shootings.

At the Teen Safety Summit at Camp Welch in Freetown, Vazquez and her mother, Dorothy, talked to teens about the after-effects of a traumatic event in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Texas.

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District Attorney of Bristol County Thomas M. Quinn III posted videos of Vazquez and her mother speaking at the summit on Twitter.

“When I didn’t have school it all sat with me because school was over, I didn’t have to go there for a while and I was like ‘Oh, this is really bigger than I thought and this is hurting me more than I thought,” said Aliyah.

Aliyah went on to say it’s important to avoid brushing tragedies aside because even if national attention subsides, the feelings associated with the event will stay with those affected.

Dorothy said what was effective following the shooting was animal therapy provided by Stoneman Douglas high school.

“They might not want to talk to grown-ups, they might not want to talk to their friends, but you know they’ll pet a pet. You know they had a lot of different pets on campus,” Dorothy said.

Vazquez’s mother also said paying extra attention to children is essential.

“Make sure you’re paying attention to their mood swings, their friends and you know even be a good friend and support your friend even if they’re saying ‘Oh, I’m down today,’ or ‘I’m not feeling well,'” she said.

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