About 20 high school students from across Bellingham are embarking a trip they believe will change their lives, and hopefully save some as well. They're leaving next week to take part in the national "March for Our Lives."

The students got together in a friend's living room Thursday to prepare.

Among them was 16-year-old Maggie Davis-Bower.

"Every person here has a story that motivates them to get involved with this issue," she said.

But no one in that room had a story anything like Maggie's.

She was at Burlington's Cascade Mall 18 months ago when a man armed with a rifle killed five people.

Maggie was with her mom shopping for a homecoming dress. Instead, she hid behind a clothing rack and watched a woman get murdered.

"That's a very real memory that's gonna stay with me for the rest of my life," said Maggie. "There's not much I can do about that, but I think empowerment is really the only way to handle that kind of trauma."

After seeing students from the Parkland massacre speak out against gun violence, Maggie felt empowered to organize a massive rally in her hometown last month and travel to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with lawmakers and bring about change -- something adults have failed to do.

"It's sad that we, as children, have to take the role of adults, but if we don't make a change, no one will," said one of the students at the pre-rally meeting.

The students will also present lawmakers with hundreds of letters from those who couldn't make the trip.

As for criticism pushed by some that the children are political pawns in a left-wing anti-gun agenda orchestrated by adults, student Mehar Singh said, "There's no big, left-wing puppet master controlling us. This is coming from us. We just want to feel safe at school."