Cullen, JKL Student
Stratford High School, Arlington, TX

The Stratford high school just keep livin program is approaching its second semester and has already acquired some great students. Cullen is one of the most dedicated students in the program and is on a mission to take advantage of the fitness and community service opportunities. 

Cullen explained, “…embracing fitness routines and activities makes your life easier, creates discipline, and gets you out of the house. I truly enjoy participating in the community service element of the JKL program. I want to keep giving back to my community and meeting new people.” It is not every day that you meet a young man with such strong purpose.

In speaking with JKL instructor, Mr. Vargason, it was stated, “Cullen combines the playfulness of youth with the maturity of a man twice his age. Being around him is both a memorable and rich learning experience. Watching him grow and interact with his peers this semester has been a pleasure.”

Cullen still has a few more years in high school, but once he crosses that stage, he has his eyes set on Tennessee State University to study robotic engineering. The Stratford JKL program is in good hands! We are excited to see the growth and leadership involvement Cullen will take part in for years to come. 


Cindy, JKL Student
Sam Houston High School, Arlington, TX

Cindy, a senior from our Animo City of Champions jkl program, has been on a two-year journey of self-discovery. Joining the jkl program during the pandemic was exactly what Cindy needed. She found herself with no energy and a very low desire to work out.

In the jkl program, both virtually and in person, Cindy has learned more about how resilient her physical body actually is and she has been enjoying the process. “When I first joined the program, I wasn’t able to do a squat or push-up. Now, I have better form and confidence and have witnessed my growth with exercising in general,” says Cindy. Our nutrition and community pillars of the jkl program have also kept Cindy engaged.

Incorporating more fruits and veggies in her diet as well as carrying the spirit of gratitude is what Cindy has implemented with her family. She has plans to keep this up as she enters college. After high school, Cindy would like to get a degree in marketing or early child development and attend her dream school University of California, San Diego. We are cheering for Cindy and look forward to seeing her thrive in college!


Khulthum, JKL Student
Sam Houston High School, Arlington, TX

Khulthum is a 13-year-old junior (super impressive!) from our Sam Houston High school jkl program. Approaching her 3rd year in the jkl program, Khulthum is a fierce leader who has taken full advantage of the jkl offerings. “She shows up at our meetings with a smile on her face and kindness in her heart! Khulthum was also elected by her peers to be our just keep livin president for this school year” said Ronda (jkl instructor). 

There have been so many first-time experiences for her in the jkl program. From cooking and eating ramen for the first time, to helping the SPED population on campus through community service work, to fully embracing the gratitude circle. Khulthum explained, “jkl is a great safe space where you learn a lot and have great leaders. I have become more social and able to be my true self in the program.”

When Khulthum isn’t reading her favorite book, Chronicles of Narnia, or leading a cheer at practice or attending key club meetings she is thinking about her goals after high school. Gaining a degree in bio-medical or aerospace engineering is the goal. We are so excited for the levels of excellence Khulthum will reach! She definitely embodies the jkl spirit and attitude. 


Brianna, JKL Student
Animo Inglewood Charter High School, Inglewood, CA

We had the pleasure of checking in with our senior jkl student Brianna from Animo Inglewood Charter High School.

What new skills or goals did you accomplish this summer? I didn’t gain any new skills but I did conquer a fear of mine. This past summer I conquered my fear of being on a boat in the ocean. Our jkl summer program took us on a trip to the Catalina Island, which was a blast! 

What goals do you have for this upcoming school year? Be more outgoing and keep a positive mindset through the school year. I also would like to try out for the basketball team this year.  

What are you looking forward to from the jkl program this year? Community service activities surrounding animals. Last year we went to an animal shelter and the experience was super fun and I loved visiting and caring for the animals. 

Current favorite healthy meal? a basic salad full of broccoli and kale with a light dressing. 

Tell me about your plans after you graduate from High School. I would love to attend UCLA and focus on pursuing a career in the nursing field and eventually becoming a Midwife.  

What are you grateful for today? I am grateful for another day on Earth.


Arman, JKL Student
Ballou High School, Washington, D.C.

We had the pleasure of checking in with our fourth year JKL student Arman from Ballou High School. 

What new skills or goals did you accomplish this summer? My brother taught me how to play the Tuba and I am now in band camp at Ballou H.S. I also took a stab at starting my own little herb garden at home. I was able to see my garden flourish and sample a few things as well. I used the plants we got from our roots-nutrition donation. 

What goals do you have for this upcoming school year? I want to continue to do good academically. I also want to learn how to become more self-sufficient and get ready for adulthood.  

What are you looking forward to from the jkl program this year? I’m looking forward to more new experiences, and skills, working out with my friends and being in a positive environment after school. 

Current favorite healthy meal? a basic salad full of broccoli and kale with a light dressing. 

Tell me about your plans after you graduate from Ballou High School. I hoping to get an academic or band scholarship to attend Historical Black College Virginia State University or Norfolk University. I also love working on cars and wouldn’t mind looking into an auto technician school where I can become certified. 

What are you grateful for today? I am grateful that I made it to the 12th grade and have the opportunity to attend college very soon.  


Estefani, JKL Student
Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, CA

This past June, just keep livin student Estefani from Manual Arts High School crossed the stage with her eyes set on college.

Estefani was the class Valedictorian and will be attending UCLA this fall, where she will be studying psychology. During Estefani’s senior year, she wanted to try something new so she joined the jkl program. “I was stressed out during covid and wanted to work out but didn’t have the motivation. When I joined jkl, I got motivated and made friends some new friends in the process,” says Estefani.

Although Estefani only experienced one year of the jkl program, she is forever grateful for finding such a great resource on campus. “Estefani’s work ethic inspired her peers to push towards goals and embrace the best version themselves,” says George, the Woodcraft Site Coordinator. We are looking forward to seeing Estefani excel in college!


A’Lasia, JKL Student
East Laurens High School, Dublin

East Laurens H.S. student A’Lasia has found her peace within the JKL program.

Although she joined the program during Covid when a hybrid model was in place, she has taken full advantage of our resources. The Kevin Love Fund SEL curriculum, Mental Health Mondays, and the gratitude circle were the highlights of this past school year.

A’lasia is a soft-spoken trailblazer who makes it a point to bring in new friends, stresses the importance of journaling, and leads by example during community service events. “The thing I love about JKL is that I can express myself without being judged by my peers.” A’lasia will be a junior this upcoming school year and looks forward to continuing to embrace the JKL program and be an ambassador for positivity.

Mia Diaz

Mia Diaz, JKL Student
Animo Inglewood, Los Angeles

Mia Diaz is the second Diaz family member to come through our Animo Inglewood JKL program. Her brother, Malik, was a great JKL student who introduced Mia to the program during her freshman year.

Mia is now a senior and has been involved with the program for all 4 years. She has made some great memories and friendships. Learning to love fitness and experiencing yoga for the first time helped shape Mia’s perspective on loving herself. One of Mia’s overall highlights of the program was attending our spring break Camp Ubuntu trip, where getting uncomfortable and being challenged is the norm.

More recently, the Mental Health Monday sessions during the pandemic helped Mia navigate a stressful period of online learning and having little to no contact with people. Now that high school is in the rearview, Mia is ready to start her college experience at the Historical Black College, Hampton University. Mia will be studying Criminal Justice with plans to attend law school and become a judge. Our just keep livin students make us so proud!  Go reach your goals, Mia!


Sandra, JKL Student
 Roosevelt HS, Washington DC

JKL student, Sandra, is a freshman at Roosevelt H.S.  Before joining the JKL program Sandra didn’t really express her emotions or feel motivated to be active. “Because of joining JKL, I now work out in the gym and feel comfortable around other participants.

A while ago, I felt really sad, almost depressed. Working out with my peers gave me so much energy and took away that sad feeling I had.” Sandra’s favorite element of the JKL program is the nutrition lessons. Although Sandra is not new to cooking, she now has the knowledge on how to make quick healthy meals for her mother.

Sandra is already thinking about her future and would like to pursue a law degree and become a lawyer. We are looking forward to spending the next 3 years watching Sandra flourish in our program!  


James Melendez, JKL Student
Russell Westbrook Why Not Charter H.S., Los Angeles

Russell Westbrook Why Not Charter H.S. Junior, James Melendez, is focused on opening up his world and embracing new experiences.

Before joining the JKL program during his freshman year, James was a quiet and shy person who didn’t really express himself too often. Now, only two years later, James has been one of the most consistent and active students who is taking full advantage of the gratitude circle, giving back to the community and remaining open minded with new activities.

For example, running is a newfound interest for James and he is incorporating more into his life since running his first 5k race with JKL last year. “James shows his peers it is ok to try new things and show emotions. He has embodied the pillars of JKL. As a teacher I am pleased to have a student I can count on to lead and motivate”- Mrs. Cardona.


Luis, JKL Student
EACPrep, Los Angeles

EACprep freshman, Luis, is breaking out of his shell and quickly becoming a leader within the JKL program. “He is always eager to assist and volunteer for any event. He takes initiative and has shown great compassion and maturity for a freshman”-JKL Staff.

Community Service has truly inspired Luis and he now understands how important it is to give back to his community. “I love doing something for my community and helping out others who may need it,” says Luis. With 3 more years of high school ahead of him, Luis is already set on a career in engineering and specifically wants to work on airplanes. Students like Luis, who show up as passionate leaders, keep our programs thriving!


Samantha, JKL Student
Fairfax HS, Los Angeles

Samantha, who refers to herself as a “former” anti-social student, has finally found her tribe during her junior year at Fairfax High school.

After joining the softball team and being introduced to the JKL program, Samantha started spending more time exploring fitness, nutrition, and teamwork which has elevated her high school experience lately. “I have learned a lot about my body and have been challenged physically and have not allowed myself to be lazy since joining the program”. 

Samantha is already displaying leadership qualities in the JKL Fairfax program, and especially when the Rocky theme song is playing! After high school, Samantha plans to fulfill her lifelong dream by studying to become a veterinarian. We love to hear about our student’s goals and dreams. You got this Samantha!

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