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Russell Simmons Inspires Youth with “Keep The Peace” Program

By Shaquille Woods (Los Angeles Sentinel/NNPA Member)

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons recently hosted an event for RushCard’s “Keep The Peace” initiative at the University of Southern California; over 75 young people from southern Los Angeles filled the room.

Simmons, who co-founded the prepaid debit card company RushCard, provides grants annually to organizations that promote peace and reduce youth violence within their communities.

This year, the Los Angeles Community Coalition’s Freedom School received a grant of $25,000 for their peace promoting efforts. The coalition empowers Los Angeles youth through literacy and teaching civil rights history.

Community groups in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, and Cincinnati received grants this year.

Simmons began the event by focusing on the importance of giving.

“By giving away happiness, you gain happiness,” said Simmons. “Achievement is just the reinforcement for giving. Your gifts are what make you happy. Focus on your gifts and give them.”

The New York native built successful business empires throughout the years, including Phat Farm, RushCard, and Def Jam Records.

Simmons talked openly about his past business failures.

“Do you know how many times I failed with Phat Farm? RushCard failed. Def Jam failed,” said Simmons. “You cannot fail, unless you quit!”

While wearing his yogi apparel, Simmons advocated why yoga should be a daily practice for everyone.

“I teach in the morning and I teach at night. Yoga is the science of happiness.”

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, studies suggest practicing yoga can relieve anxiety, depression, and decrease back pain.

Simmons gave everyone free passes to his West Hollywood yoga studio called the Tantris Center.

Though Simmons has achieved financial success, he elaborates on money misconceptions.

“A poor man can be just as happy as a rich man. Don’t focus on what everyone else has. Focus on what you have and you will gain more of it,” said Simmons.

The event ended with group meditation. Russell guided the youth with deep breathing exercises. He told them to clear their mind and relax.

For five minutes energized kids stood still. Some snickered, while others focused on their breathing.

“If any negative thoughts come, replace it with positive thoughts. You have the control,” said Simmons.

Each student signed a peace pledge to promote tranquility in his or her life.

When a young girl asked Simmons what quote he lives by, the hip-hop mogul replied, “That changes everyday. It is simply being grateful for what I have now.”

The Los Angeles Sentinel is a member publication of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Learn more about becoming a member at www.nnpa.org.

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