BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Hip hop mogul and RushCard co-founder Russell Simmons held a Day of Peace last Thursday in Queens, during which he advocated for the end of youth violence through RushCard’s Keep the Peace initiative and encouraged the students of PS 993, MS 72 and Redwood Middle School to use meditation as a tool.
Through RushCard’s nationwide program, it donates funding to organizations each year that are working to reduce youth violence.
This year, RushCard has donated $25,000 to Peacekeepers program in Chicago and Atlanta, the Boys Hope Girls Hope program in Cincinnati, Community Coalition in Los Angeles and, for the third year in a row, Baisely Park Houses’ Love Ignites Freedom Through Education (LIFE) Camp—an anti-violence program that works with active gang members to keep the peace and encourage young people to act against violence.
“This community right now has more violence than it’s had in a very long time, and it’s more amongst young people,” Simmons told the Queens Tribune.
The majority of the camp counselors at LIFE Camp and Keep the Peace have served time in prison and provide an example to youths that jail time should not be glorified, Simmons said.
The schoolyard was filled with students and staff in orange T-shirts that read “Keep The Peace RushCard,” with “Text PEACEFORCE to 51555” on the back.
At the beginning of the event, Simmons held a meditation session and delivered motivational remarks.
“The meditation is like this: The world is moving around you and you are watching the world. That’s your real life all the time,” Simmons told the children. “People are doing things around you. They’re making noise, but you are the watcher. This way, you can decide what you want instead of doing what they’re doing. It gives you peace of mind, so you can go out into the world, make choices on your own that are good for you.”
Simmons told the students that he wants them to sit still, be patient and expect that they can do anything they imagine. He said it is important that they meditate and gain self-awareness.
“There’s always going to be that one person that is trying to take you off point to get you in trouble, to make you cheat, to make you cut, to make you drink, to make you smoke, to make you pick up a gun, to make you have sex when you’re not ready, to make you do what you aren’t supposed to do,” CEO and LIFE Camp founder Erica Ford said. “There’s always going to be that one person. And so the importance of meditation is that you can control your mind, your life, your actions, no matter what is happening around you. That is very important. Do not go following behind somebody who is leading you to your death and your demise. Learn to get tools that will keep you alive.”
Simmons reiterated Ford’s words by adding, “You are who you hang with.”
Rapper DMX, who has served prison time, also dropped by the event to speak to the youths.
“Nothing is impossible,” said DMX. “You’re at the age right now that you can accomplish anything you want as long as you put your mind to it.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.