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PSA Featuring School Shooting Survivors Transforms Katy Perry’s 'Teenage Dream’ Into Powerful Statement

The new PSA features school shooting survivors like Aalayah Eastmond, who hid under the body of her friend Nicholas Dworet when gunfire erupted at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

By Gina Tron
Nick Aalayah Sandy Hook Promise

Katy Perry’s song “Teenage Dream” takes on a whole new meaning in a new PSA that features young people who have survived school shootings.

Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit led by relatives of Sandy Hook shooting victims, released the PSA “Teenage Dream” on Monday along with the caption, “Gun violence shouldn’t be part of growing up.” The organization states that “The Teenage Dream Is Not What It Used To Be.”

The PSA opens up with various young adults and teens somberly singing the lyrics to the normally upbeat pop song.

Aalayah Eastmond is one survivor featured in the video. In a separate video included in the "Teenage Dream" campaign, she describes how her friend, Nicholas Dworet, was one of 17 people killed in the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She recounts having to hide under his body to protect herself.

"You can see in the PSA I hold my phone up and I'm holding a picture of Nicholas Dworet, who saved my life in my school shooting," Eastmond told People. "As I'm holding his picture and listening to the lyrics, recognizing that, yes, all of our teenage dreams have been ripped away from us, but also the victims of our schools, their teenage dream was taken away from them."

The video begins with a tight shot on survivor Nick Walczak, and soon widens to reveal that he is in a wheelchair.

"Shot 3 times. Paralyzed by a bullet in his spine,” the PSA states. He was wounded in a 2012 school shooting in Chardon, Ohio which took the lives of three people.

“By re-recording the upbeat tribute to teenage innocence – Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” – with real school shooting survivors reciting the lyrics, the powerful PSA illustrates how the teenage dream is stolen from those impacted by school shootings,” Sandy Hook Promise states. “School shootings should not be part of growing up in America. Prevention is critical.”

“Teenage Dream” is one of several videos that the nonprofit has created since 2016. A previous PSA, "Back to School Essentials," won an Emmy Award in 2020.

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