Elana Bolds has held active shooter drills for decades in her northern California community, where exposure to gun violence is almost inevitable
Boom, boom, boom, Elana Bolds called out.
The bangs froze the small group of children playing on the new jungle gym on this sunny northern California afternoon last week. The kids stopped swinging and playing tag and ran full speed to hide behind buildings and the garbage cans. They sat silent for a few moments before Bolds called them out of their hiding places.
No coughing, no sneezing, Bolds told the small cluster of seven- and eight-year-olds. Just remember if I can hear you, I can find you.
The kids had just participated in an active shooter drill that Bolds, a longtime anti-violence advocate, had organized for children in the Crescent Park apartment complex in Richmond, an industrial city less than 20 miles north-east of San Francisco comprised of mostly Latino and black residents.
Bolds has run these types of drills since the late 90s. During her tenure, they have become mainstream in schools throughout the United States. This is due to tragedies like the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings which have turned many suburban parents and students into gun control activists. But shootings on campuses account for just a small percentage of shootings in the country each year. So Bolds focuses on helping children reckon with the steady stream of daily gun violence by teaching them how to get to safety when bullets are flying.
Im a mom, Im a grandmother. I feel like Im fighting for future kids, she said.