Zachary, JKL Student
Carver High School, Houston, TX
A bright young man named Zachary from our program at Carver High School in Houston, Texas is a natural-born leader who has made his mark. Despite his struggles, Zachary’s positive outlook on life has brought encouragement and new energy to the program. “If everyone had the spirit that Zachary has, the world would be a much better place.
Zachary is the kid that every teacher prays for,” says our jkl staff member. The jkl program has given Zachary more structure in his fitness approach and opened his eyes to the importance of gratitude. “Hearing other people say what they are grateful for gives me an outlook on what to be grateful for,” expresses Zachary. He has only been part of jkl since the beginning of his senior year. Still, he has led multiple workouts for his jkl peers and is leading the charge on program recruitment. We will miss Zachary’s kind heart and passion, but we wish him luck in becoming a real estate agent and providing his community affordable housing options. Make your dreams happen, Zachary!
Damian, JKL Student
Morse High School, San Diego, CA
Here at just keep livin, our after-school programs are open to all, and no student is turned away. Morse High School in San Diego, CA is an excellent example of the inclusivity we have within our programs. A junior by the name of Damian, who also has different/special needs, is thriving and has found a great community and safe space in the jkl program.
“Damian was new to Morse two years ago, and jkl helped him to become an active member of the Morse High School community. He has formed friendships within the group and has become more outgoing in classes,” expresses our jkl instructor. Since joining the program, Damian has dropped a few pounds, is implementing healthier snack options, and is giving his all during fitness activities. There have been many first-time experiences, but his recent rock climbing experience is something Damian can’t stop talking about. “The jkl staff supports me and respects everyone who comes in the program. I like jkl a lot. It makes me happy,” says Damian. It is incredible to know with certainty that we close the gaps to provide a great, fun and safe space for all students to be involved!
Max, JKL Student
Cesar Chavez High School, Houston, TX
Max’s cousin witnesses the jkl program thriving on the Chavez campus and this is where Max’s connection began. Fitness was the bait that hooked Max into the program, where he developed a passion and consistency for fitness. “I never worked out before jkl, so participating in the fitness activities helps me and makes me feel good,” says Max.
Nutrition was another component that opened his eyes. Volunteering to help maintain the jkl garden provided enriching experiences, from having nutrition sessions utilizing fruits and vegetables straight from the garden, to learning about the planting process. “Max is a charismatic and dedicated leading member of our jkl club. It has been a delight to see him become more confident and outspoken,” shared a jkl staff member. We are excited to have Max in our jkl program and looking forward to seeing his growth!
Sumiyah, JKL Student
Northtown High School, Chicago, IL
Meet Sumiyah, a dedicated sophomore from one of our newest just keep livin programs at Northtown High School, in Chicago, IL. Since the inception of the JKL program, Sumiyah has not missed one session and has taken full advantage of the JKL resources.
Before joining the program, Sumiyah had trouble expressing herself, however, she has found her voice and community through the weekly gratitude circles, fitness and nutrition activities. “Sumiyah has been with JKL Northtown since our first day this year. Her calm and thoughtful energy brings so much to our group, and other members look to her for support and guidance,” explained Evelyn, a JKL Instructor. After high school, Sumiyah would like to honor her mother by becoming a nurse. Sumiyah’s mother wanted to be a nurse but faced many roadblocks early in life, including being a single parent. Sumiyah said, “I want to make my mother proud of me, and her seeing me pursue a degree in nursing would make her so proud.” Sumiyah is such a great student, leader, and daughter. We are cheering for nothing but joy and achievement to come her way!
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, 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!