Missy Mendo and Sherrie Lawson are mass shooting survivors who now volunteer with nonprofit The Rebels Project to provide a support network for mass shooting survivors.
Mendo was a freshman at Columbine high school during the shooting on April 20, 1999, while Lawson was involved in the Navy Yard shooting.
The Rebels Project was founded in 2012 by Columbine survivors in the wake of the Aurora movie theater shooting. The nonprofit hosts gathering and workshops for survivors to heal, connect with others, and learn more about mass trauma.
Approximately 28% of mass shooting survivors develop PTSD, and others have reported dealing with anxiety, depression and insomnia. Survivors of trauma have a greater risk of long-term mental health problems, but studies show support systems can help people better access care.
“You shouldn’t fear for your life at high school, right? You shouldn’t, you know, go through these things anywhere,” said Lawson. “We’re not gonna forget you, even when the cameras go away and, you know, and nobody ‘cares’ anymore about your tragedy, your trauma.”
Mendo and Lawson say their work can help destigmatize mental health for survivors and provide resources for communities through the healing process.
“Keeping those relationships, being able to talk to each other, text each other even outside of The Rebels Project has been a lifesaver,” Lawson said.