PHILADELPHIA (CNN/CBS) — Thousands in the Delaware Valley Region have joined the nationwide “March For Our Lives” rally led by the survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting massacre.
The march started at noon, with participants gathering on Pennsylvania Avenue near the US Capitol.
Dozens of students and activists from the Philadelphia region took part in the march, leaving in buses early Saturday morning.
Rallies also took place at Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Haddon Lake Park in Audubon, Rose Tree Park in Media and Rodney Square in Wilmington, among others.
Survivors and activists delivered their impassioned pleas for stricter gun control law to the nation.
Building on the momentum of last week’s National School Walkout, these members of a generation raised on gun violence have been rallying Americans around their cause while honoring the 17 students and faculty members killed on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alum Rebecca Salus joined the rally in Philadelphia.
“Of all the high schools in the country, this can’t be happening at mine,” said Salus.
Rebecca Salus moved to Philadelphia last year from her hometown of Parkland, Florida.
“Our message is really clear that we stand behind the students of Parkland and we fight with them,” said Salus. “We won’t give up until change happens.”
Joining the rally in the nation’s capital was Daisy Noe from Bucks County, who says staying silent for another second is unacceptable, and she hopes their collective voice is enough to rattle some cages on Capitol Hill.
“Standing up for what we believe in and saying enough is enough and it’s time to make a change,” Noe said. “So even if we’re just saying it, at least we’re saying it.”
She says it’s time to take a look at why this keeps happening and come up with practical ways to fix it. Metal detectors at school entrances may have to become the new normal for suburban districts.
“Making sure that people who go into schools are not carrying these weapons,” Noe said.
Jemima James from Philadelphia says it is unfortunate that safety at schools has deteriorated to this point and she wants more armed security officers to harden up schools which are soft targets containing our most precious resources.
“You go to school and you’re expecting to be safe in that building,” James said. “You’re not expecting to be on the lookout constantly.”
Hundreds in Philadelphia marched from Independence Mall to Columbus Boulevard, where they stopped to listen to speakers in favor of gun control.
“As for arming teachers, I have never heard such an ignorant and destructive proposal in my entire life!!!”
Students say they can no longer live like this.
“Well, we have drills like every month or so and it’s crazy because we’re like literally locked in closets and told to be quiet and keep our phones off and think about if there was a shooter in our classroom that we need to lock the door.”
They say the easy accessibility of guns in America is having a psychological impact on them.
“Sometimes I’m in class and I hear something and I sort of jump because I’m afraid maybe someone is coming in.”
“School’s not a place that we need to go and feel afraid,” said high school senior Dayna Stauts. “It’s a place that we go to learn.”
“I’m representing my son’s life and I just want his name to be remembered,” said Shakira Fagan of North Philadelphia. “This is something special to me because I want the gun violence to stop.”
Philadelphia’s Mayor Jim Kenney and Senator Bob Casey joined the ‘March for Our Lives’ rally.
“We can pass a number of common sense measures like a background check bill,” said Casey. “Let’s get that passed in the United States Senate.”
“I’m very proud of our kids,” said Kenney. “I’m very proud of our young people and the future of this city.”
Celebrities also attended the rallies. Comedian Jay Leno made a surprise appearance at the March For Our Lives rally held in West Chester.
Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Common and Lin-Manuel Miranda attended the march in Washington, according to the event’s website.
And celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and Steven Spielberg each donated $500,000 last month to the march’s fund.
More than 800 other events were planned across the United States and in cities overseas Saturday, including London, Madrid, Paris, Tokyo and Seoul, according to the march website.
You can watch all the live coverage of the marches HERE.
On April 20, activists are calling for another national school walkout on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.
KYW’s Mike Dougherty and Hadas Kuznits contributed to this report.