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!


DeAnthony, JKL Student
Glenville HS, Cleveland OH

Glenville High school JKL student, DeAnthony is looking forward to closing out his last year in high school with a bang.

Since joining the JKL program in the 10th grade, DeAnthony has become more consistent and vocal about sharing his ideas for community service events. “One of my favorite community service events was going out and feeding the homelessness. It was a real wakeup call and made me realize how grateful I am for what I have,” explained DeAnthony.

Although community service is high on his list for favorite activities in JKL, nutrition takes the number one spot. Learning to shop on a budget at his local market and cooking with more vegetables has been a major highlight for DeAnthony. After high school, DeAnthony is looking forward to attending college and studying to become a neurologist. We always tell our JKL students to dream big and we will always have their backs! We will be cheering for DeAnthony as he wraps up his senior year and pursues his dreams!


Sandy, JKL Student
Chavez High School, Houston, TX

JKL student and senior, Sandy from Chavez High School is what we like to call a dedicated ambassador! Since joining the program earlier this Fall, Sandy hasn’t missed any JKL sessions.

Community service projects and the gratitude circle have helped her get through high school with a positive mindset. Before joining JKL, Sandy spent many days stressed out over school and life in general.

Sandy recently got student of the month for the program due to her consistency, positive energy and leadership skills. “The JKL program made me realize that doing things for your community can be fun and often help someone have a better day.” 

We love when new students take advantage of the program whether in their freshman year or senior year, our JKL program is always open!


Zarriah, JKL Student
John Adams High School, Cleveland OH

Zarriah is a JKL student at John Adams in Cleveland who has been shining bright for the last 3 years in the program and is on her way to finishing up her senior year!

Currently, she takes college courses, plays for the school’s basketball and tennis team and still makes time for JKL every week. Throughout her years in the program, Zarriah has had a blast riding a horse for the first time, going to Cavs games on a regular basis and really embracing what it means to be grateful.

“I have learned a lot in JKL and I really loved taking part in the gratitude circle, attending community service events and not taking the small things for granted”. She plans to pursue a computer science degree with a focus in cyber security. We have no doubt that Zarriah is going to help change the world with her positive energy and leadership!

Janaya and Jada

Janaya & Jada
Venice H.S., Los Angeles

Twin sisters, Janaya and Jada have been faithful JKL students at Venice H.S. since freshman year.

Both have been very active in pursuing their unique goals through the JKL online programming this year. Janaya was able to develop her cooking skills, incorporate new ingredients and create recipes from scratch. Jada found support for her weight loss journey by joining our world calisthenics and strong nation workouts.

Despite the positive experiences they both had with online JKL programming, attending school via zoom had its challenges. Luckily, the JKL monthly Mental Health Monday sessions helped these sisters navigate the semester.

As they approach their last year of high school, they are focused on their academics as they are both hoping to attend a Historical Black College University. “Jada and Janaya are superb and exemplary JKL students who work hard in their academic growth and endeavors. Their leadership and dedication is a pleasure to watch” – Joy (JKL instructor).


Hanna, JKL Student

Freshman JKL student, Hanna, like many other students across the country, started her high school experience entirely virtual. When she realized the COVID-19 pandemic was staying longer than anticipated and online learning would be her new norm, Hanna decided to join the New Visions JKL afterschool program.

She had the benefit of hearing many positive reviews from her cousin, a JKL alumni. It was the JKL program that helped launch Hanna into a fun weight loss journey! Since joining the program Hanna has lost 21 pounds through fun, high-energy dance classes and sweaty HIIT workouts.

Mental Health Mondays have been a highlight for Hanna getting through stressful school days and coping with being an only child at home. Hanna expressed, “Mental Health Mondays have encouraged me to keep my head up during the times I felt alone and provided me with calming breathing techniques for when I start overthinking.” After Hanna completes high school, she would like to obtain an engineering degree focused on coding while also pursuing an acting career. ”

Hanna is a student who is full of wisdom and energy… No matter what is going on, she sees the positive and brings light to everything she is involved in. Hanna has been such a great asset to our JKL program,” says Ms. Byers. We look forward to seeing Hanna and the New Visions JKL program continue to thrive!


Jordan Moore: Manual Arts JKL Program, Los Angeles

Like many programs, due to COVID, JKL has had to pivot and offer our weekly programming online in a creative way! For some students zoom fatigue has become a reality while others are making it a priority to utilize online resources. Jordan from Manual Arts High School is one of the JKL student’s taking advantage of our weekly resources and online programming. Jordan explains, “The JKL program has helped me become more confident in dealing with situations that I struggled with. Mental Health Mondays has really allowed me to use the tools that our taught to deal with my stress”.

During the pandemic, Jordan has acquired some newly found cooking skills and has decided to eat more vegetables while removing soda and candy from his diet. We are so proud of Jordan and we love watching him achieve his goals. Jordan is Senior and may not get to experience another in-person JKL session, but he is forever grateful for the nutrition knowledge, community service events and guest speakers that have given him such great perspectives on life.

“Jordan is a young man who will be successful in the future because of the confidence he has and his ability to always think in a positive way” says Mr. Simpson, JKL instructor. Next Fall, Jordan will be enrolled in a California based college studying graphic design!


Freshman JKL student, Riley Branum is a jocular and fearless leader who exudes positive energy and dedication.

Riley was fortunate enough to attend 1 of 2 high school campuses that offered JKL programming in hybrid format last fall! Once Riley learned about the elements of the JKL program, especially community service and gratitude, she was all in! Riley explained, “It’s nice to know we give back to our community, it is something I have been doing for long time and it’s very important to me”.

Upon entering high school, Riley had a lot of issues with anxiety and self-doubt. Riley has found a safe haven in the JKL program where she can share her creative passions and become a peer leader. “Riley loves deeply and cares for everyone. She is a great friend to others and is always there when needed. I am very proud of the young lady she is becoming”, said Ms. Hester.
The East Laurens JKL program just completed its first semester and has already made some successful strides. There was strong student engagement during a campus beautification project and a great mentoring collaboration with their local elementary school. First year programs with awesome students is a recipe for success!

We look forward to seeing Riley and the East Laurens JKL program thrive this semester.

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