Survivor of Columbine H.S. Shooting Helps Sparks Middle School Students

Reported by: Van Tieu
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Updated: 1/24/2014 6:41 pm
Sparks, NV (KRNV & - In 2013, there were 28 school shootings in America, according to Moms Demand Action, and Sparks Middle School is on that list. They’re part of a growing group in this country: they’re survivors of school shootings. This weekend politics are set aside and the focus is on the students at the Jan Jam 2014 retreat in Lake Tahoe. It’s a chance for them to have fun and get support from those who have been in their shoes.

It’s only been a few months since the Sparks Middle School shooting that wounded two students and killed 8th grade teacher, Michael Landsberry.

It’s a saying that time heals all wound, but the sights and sounds of the terrifying experience can last a long time. Take it from Christine Bell, a survivor of Columbine High School's shooting 14 years ago.

“There are scars… that I’ll always carry with me, that will always be a part of me,” says Bell. “That’s just something you learn to live with.”

Bell is one of four retreat leaders who are lending a helping hand to Sparks Middle School students this weekend, and she wants them to know they're not alone and the shooting will not define them.

“ There is a future ahead of them, that doesn’t involve this being the biggest thing in their life,” she says. “ There’s going to be a lot of good and hope that is coming down the path for them.”

Since 1998, Ferncliff camps have been organizing events for survivors of school shootings, and they're helping Presbytery of Nevada organize this event.

"Coming together like this, from our experiences, gives them chance process feelings and begin to feel a little safer in the world again," says Linda VanBlaricon, coordinator of Ferncliff retreats.

The focus is to make sure the students have fun. Bell says as a teen, it took a long time to comprehend the emotions and what happened at Columbine, but the camping experience helped her.

“This is an important part of the process for them to learn how to talk about it, to learn how to talk to each other about it, so they can have a cathartic experience,” explains Bell.

She says the healing process is different for everyone, but hopes to point Sparks Middle School students in the right direction. “They'll find a way to start down the path of healing and moving on from this.”

The boys group will depart for the Jan Jam 2014 retreat tomorrow at 11am at Spanish springs Presbyterian. There will be last minute signs up starting at 10:30 on a first come first serve basis.

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