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On May 10, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and read aloud from a children’s book to members of Congress.
“The end of the day was also my own,” she read. “Bled out on the floor and never got home.”
These chilling words tell the story of Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, who was one of 17 people killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Titled “Joaquin’s First School Shooting,” the mock children’s book read by Rep. Clark is not actually for kids, but for the “childish politicians” failing to take action to curb gun violence in the U.S.
Change the Ref, the organization founded by Joaquin’s parents Patricia and Manuel Oliver, created the book with agency BCW. The juxtaposition between an innocent-looking book and the horrific story inside is purposeful, said BCW chief creative officer Fede Garcia.
“It needed to be something that wakes people up. People are numb,” Garcia told Adweek. “Every time a shooting happens, we get ridiculous answers from politicians. We decided, if they’re going to give us childish answers, maybe we should explain the situation in their own terms.”
A true story
BCW reached out to Change the Ref and began working on the children’s book about a year ago, after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The agency took up this cause because gun violence “is an issue that cuts across all communities and impacts all our employees,” said Mary Corcoran, BCW’s president for North America. “We know there are a lot of different ideas on how to address gun violence in the U.S. What we can all agree on is that the status quo is not working.”