Charity spotlight: JK Livin

Charity spotlight: JK Livin

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Last week, I played hooky. At 9am, instead of beginning my work day, I turned off my computer and headed out to support JK Livin, a foundation that creates after school programing to teach students to make positive life choices in areas of wellness, fitness, nutrition, and community service. JK Livin currently serves more than 2,500 students in 32 programs across California, Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Washington DC. I knew when I skipped out of work that day I would be wowed by Executive Director (and my friend) Shannon Rotenberg, whose energy is unparalleled. But I didn’t expect to be so deeply moved by the guest speaker, Alyssa Najera, a student who attends a JK Livin program. After hearing her speak, I asked if I could publish her words in this newsletter. Lucky for all of us, she said yes.

Hello, my name is Alyssa Najera and I am a student at Animo Inglewood Charter High School. I just wanted to mention a few things that I have had the privilege to take part in during the past couple of years because of Just Keep Livin’.

Just Keep Livin’. A mantra. Throughout my four years of high school I learned how to appreciate my life even more because of the value that the word “gratitude” withholds. Every word has an echo behind it. But the impact that the word carries is up to interpretation. 

At the end of every Just Keep Livin’ session, whether we do yoga, play dodgeball, or simply have a workshop about nutrition; our days in its entirety end the same way. We give thanks. We give thanks for the little things in life that go unnoticed. The shoes on our feet, the air we breathe, the life that we are granted each and every day. 

So what makes our program so special? 

Giving back. A major area of focus within my life. In my first year attending JKL we began packing boxes and filling them up with meals. In my daily life outside JKL, I had already been an active participant in my community. This included going out to Skid Row with a religious affiliated program and serving those in need. 

With the JKL program, we expand what we deem necessary to help our community. We feel inspired to do what we can to serve our environment and one of our many trips included going to the beach for a beach cleanup and being informed about how people affect our oceans . This was an aspect of the program that impacted me the most because environmental studies is what I want to major in college. I have taken what I have learned to well inform others in my community and in the area of work I plan to pursue. 

Just Keep Livin’ does not only focus on areas of physical health, but mental health as well. It teaches young adults to perceive life with ambiguity. Having a growth mindset is what students need to consider when approaching obstacles. For example running marathons or 5K’s have helped me surpass several dilemmas in my life. I viewed running as an approach to better myself. To better my health. To view every obstacle as a race because there is always a finish line.

Yoga. The most therapeutic part of my day. I can be having the most stressful time of my life and as soon as I lay on the mat I know that whatever problem I am having, I can block it out. You determine how you feel. What change you want to bring to your life, as well as the positivity you decide to surround yourself with. It has provided me with a safe place of comfort.

Family. I have created friendships that did not just diminish at the end of the day or each session. Through the Just Keep Livin’ program, I met a group of leaders who have become an infinity of radiance in any and every room they place themselves in. We call ourselves the A team. Just Keep Livin’ is a place where bonds can be established and as the years go by, the fact that gratitude has played such a big part in our lives has shaped us into the people we will become. This is a glimpse as of what JKL means to me and the positive impact it has had on my life. 

Thank you.