Survivors of the deadly shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school were awarded the 2018 International Children’s Peace Prize on Tuesday.
In a ceremony celebrated in Cape Town, South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu presented the prize to David Hogg, Emma González, Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch.
In the aftermath of the shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, students organized March for Our Lives and rallied in Washington, calling for stricter gun laws in the United States. The event was one of more than 800 planned across the United States and in cities worldwide.
The rallies propelled the students into activism, including motivating young people to vote in the midterm elections.
Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work to end apartheid in South Africa, called March for Our Lives one of the most significant movements led by young people, according to a statement posted on the Children’s Peace Prize website.
“The peaceful campaign to demand safe schools and communities and the eradication of gun violence is reminiscent of other great peace movements in history,” Tutu said. “I am in awe of these children, whose powerful message is amplified by their youthful energy and an unshakable belief that children can – no, must – improve their own futures.”
The prize was founded by KidsRights, an organization that works to guarantee the rights of children. Tutu has been the patron for more than a decade. Past winners include Malala Yousafzai, who received the award in 2013 for her work advocating for children’s education.
Marc Dullaert, founder of KidsRights and the peace prize, said in a statement that March for Our Lives topped the list of this year’s nominees because it is a “truly global youth-led and peaceful protest movement.”
“The initiators have utilized the skills and knowledge of young people to generate positive change, whilst mobilizing millions of their peers. … This will shape the way in which children’s rights are campaigned in the future,” Dullaert added.
Hogg, one of the movement’s founders, wrote on Twitter:
“9 months ago we were 25 kids on a living-room floor. Today Desmond Tutu gave us the International Children’s Peace Prize in Cape Town, South Africa.”
March for Our Lives also took to Twitter, dedicating the award to “everyone that has supported us, marched with us, and organized with us. This is only the beginning of our global movement.”