SEATTLE — After surviving the Parkland shooting but seeing many of his friends die or be injured, Carlitos Rodriguez recognized the power of storytelling when it came to gun violence.
"The night of the shooting my mom sat down with me and said, ‘Carlitos, your story matters, and it’ll be heard throughout the country. And you need to help others find their story as well,’” he recalls.
Over the next two years, Carlitos developed Stories Untold US, a social media platform that connects people who have experienced gun violence. The goal is “to amplify as many voices as possible, because our stories will be the catalyst for change in this country," Carlitos said.
He felt that not all voices were being heard, especially communities of people of color. He and his group travel the country and give voice via social media to stories of violence: including Pulse Nightclub victims, Columbine, and gang violence in Chicago.
T-Mobile Changemakers Lab recognized Carlitos and has named him one of 60 Changemakers and awarded him the Education Category Winner. Carlitos and his work was chosen by T-Mobile leadership based on four categories:
- Changemaker Quality - already taking steps to make a difference
- Creativity – fresh, innovative ideas that challenge the norm
- Commitment – devotion to seeing their project through and making a lasting impact
- Connection – ability and openness to work with others in their communities