Demi Lovato brings 'courageous' Parkland shooting survivors onstage
'I want to make sure their voices are heard,' says the singer on the opening night of her tour
Demi Lovato is continuing to use her star power to make a difference in the world.
The singer, 25, kicked off her Tell Me You Love Me world tour Monday night in San Diego and invited five special guests to join her onstage.
Parkland shooting survivors Julius Castillo, Mackenzie Marie Chapman, Samantha Megan Deitsch, Maia Hebron, Eden Hebron, and Sarah Stricker — who are all students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed on Feb. 14 by a former student — traveled from Florida via private jet charter company JetLux to attend the show.
“Tonight was our first night of the tour and it was incredibly special,” Lovato says in a statement. “I was able to bring out and meet a few of the students that had to experience the shooting in Florida on the 14th. It was such an honor to meet them and hear their courageous stories. I want to make sure their voices are being heard and we can provide them with the mental health and post-trauma care they need.”
Lovato’s fans were able to text in donations to the CAST Foundation — the nonprofit arm of treatment facility CAST Centers (co-owned by the singer) — and the money raised will go towards mental health resources for the students.
“The courage and resolve that the students from Stoneman Douglas have is truly inspiring. It was an honor to meet them and I’m glad they were able to join us tonight,” adds Mike Bayer, who founded CAST Centers.Lovato, who has been open about her own struggles with mental illness, previously revealed on Good Morning America that she would be offering free mental health counseling to her fans via CAST on Tour (hosted by Dave Osokow) in partnership with CAST Centers. She offered similar services while on tour with Nick Jonas for their “Future Now” tour in 2016.
“It’s basically like a therapy session before the concerts and we have speakers from all over and we’re also helping out with different charities from around the country,” Lovato said. “So it’ll be an incredible, very moving and inspiring experience.”
This article originally appeared on People.com