On February 14, 2018 brothers Adam and Josh Buchwald’s lives changed forever.
“I truly believed that this would be the day I died,” Josh told CNN.
Josh was a 15-year-old freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Adam was a 16-year-old junior that day a gunman walked into their school and killed 17 people.
“A sense of horror came over me when I heard blaring sirens and helicopters circling the air above the school,” said Adam. “After finally reuniting with my family, I cried for hours and my body felt so sore.”
“Being in a tragedy like that will not only change you as a person, but influence the appreciation of life,” said Josh.
With a new sense of purpose, the brothers found their voices in activism. In February 2018 they created, along with a friend, Parents Promise To Kids, an organization that seeks promises from parents to vote for officials who prioritize gun safety legislation. The movement rallied thousands of people to support their cause and sign the organization’s contract to promote children’s safety.
The brothers are now putting their activist voices to work for a new widespread crisis – the coronavirus pandemic.
A promise to help
Adam and Josh, now 18 and 17, launched Promise to Humanity, a movement to secure promises to social distance, wear masks and wash hands. Much like the origins of Parents Promise to Kids, the motivation behind Promise to Humanity is personal. The Buchwald’s have a sister with Type 1 diabetes and two elderly grandparents, all considered very vulnerable and in the high-risk category.
Adam, a sophomore at the University of Florida and Josh, a rising senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, say they’ve seen a lot of people not taking proper precautions in a state where cases are spiking.
Florida is currently seeing a record number of new coronavirus cases a day along with Texas and California. The brothers want people to feel accountable for their actions.
“Seeing friends and people in large groups congregating, whether it’s backyards or the beach, it’s very difficult to see. That’s one of the main reasons that I started this, to enforce the rules that I’ve been given by reputable sources,” said Adam.
The brothers are asking that people sign the Promise to Humanity contract and then post a picture of themselves on their social accounts using the hashtags – #PromiseToHumanity #SafetyOverDisease.
“It’s more of a pledge than an actual contract,” Adam points out. “We’re not forcing anyone. We’re just trying to reiterate the message of how important it is to take these common sense guidelines seriously.”
Since the campaign’s launch in May, around 5,000 people have signed the pledge to do their part, a majority of them young adults. It’s part of the brothers’ mission to “emphasize that teenagers and young children are not being selfish and care about the health of others.”
“We care about senior citizens’ health, so we wanted to advocate for their health as well,” said Adam.
Josh added “We wanted to really show the world that we can prove ourselves, in terms of young adults like us, making a difference.”
Even though the task at hand is growing everyday, their goal remains the same, “inform people in order to save lives.”