Kids for Peace!

On a peaceful Sunday in Los Angeles, over 350 students from 22 schools joined together as a one. They came from all over the city and represent a variety of communities, but each student had a common goal: peace.

During a time of tension within our nation, LA's BEST students gathered to dance, speak, act, and perform to support each other in the fight against bullying and violence. There was no room for any judgment, negativity, or violence -- only space for love, peace, and kindness.

"The annual LA's BEST Community Jam Against Violence event began in 1993 to celebrate children's creative anti-violence messages and the positive choices they make," explained Mario Davila, LA's BEST After School Arts Program Director.

"With the help of LA's BEST staff, messages are created by children and expressed through video, dance, music, spoken word and theater to an audience of peers and family members. Although bullying often comes to mind when thinking about physical and emotional safety, this year's presentations addressed issues such as playground conflict resolution, teamwork, empathy, civil rights, and the importance of friendship."

This year's event was hosted by young actors, Morgan Ashley and Demitris Dajoun.  Ashley, originally from Chicago, moved to LA at the age of 3 and has been acting since she was only 5 years old.  She has had numerous stage roles and also has a new TV production, Nickelodeon's "React to That," scheduled to air in 2015. Dajoun, originally from Boston, moved to LA at the age of 13 and has been acting ever since.  Known as a triple threat, Dajoun can act, sing, and play double bass.  Not to mention he is active in sports, including basketball and football. 

Ashley and Dajoun co-star in the new short film Rapunzel Jackson, an urban take on the fairy tale Rapunzel. Both young actors volunteered their time to host the 22nd Annual Community Jam Against Violence.

As an organization, we pride ourselves in sending a positive message to our students, colleagues and partners. We are even prouder when that message is embraced and expressed by our children. With hundreds of children brave enough to take center stage in Royce Hall at UCLA in the fight for a change, they not only represented themselves, but the additional 29,000 students across Los Angeles that attend LA's BEST After School Program.

We hope that the day's peaceful messages are carried beyond our perennial Community Jam Against Violence, beyond LA's BEST, and ultimately throughout our students' everyday lives.

(Photos by Ben Gibbs)

Click here to see the full photo gallery.

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