To continue the support of gun violence prevention, the Los Angeles Rams partnered with Students Demand Action, part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, to host a discussion about combating gun violence as part of Impact Day, an event to close out the 2022 Los Angeles Summer Leadership Academy.
The Student Demand Action Summer Leadership Academy program empowers low-income students and survivors to become community organizers. During the conversation in the Rams locker room at SoFi Stadium, attendees discussed initiatives to tackle guns and community violence. The student participants were also given the opportunity to present their very own gun prevention proposals to a panel of judges, including Rams Legend Brandyn Harvey, Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development Johnathan Franklin, Inglewood Mayor James Butts, Regional Program Manager with Gang Reduction & Youth Development (GRYD) Carlos De Santiago and Ashley Castillo, a Students Demand Action volunteer and former Summer Leadership Academy participant.
"As mayor of Inglewood and former law enforcement, I am all too familiar with gun violence," said Inglewood Mayor James Butts. "While making our communities safe requires a multi-faceted approach, addressing the number of guns flooding our streets is a critical and necessary first step. I'm proud to see these young leaders from across Los Angeles rising to become leaders in this movement."
The Los Angeles Summer Leadership Academy was founded in 2019 and has just embarked on their fourth year. Their initiative prioritizes removing barriers that keep marginalized students from becoming leaders in the gun violence prevention movement. These barriers include access to meals, mentoring and transportation at no cost to program participants and internship opportunities for student program leaders. The academies are in Los Angeles, CA, Chicago, IL, Tampa, FL, Phoenix, AZ, Memphis, TN and Washington, D.C. The Los Angeles Summer Leadership Academy empowers low-income students and allows them to immerse themselves in advocacy against gun violence in South Central Los Angeles through planning community events, learning about political activism and developing critical leadership skills.
"Taking part in Summer Leadership Academy last year was an incredibly meaningful experience for me that made getting to be a judge this year all the more special," said Ashley Castillo, a volunteer with Students Demand Action and former Summer Leadership Academy participant. "My experience is a proof-point that this program truly empowers young people like me to become leaders in the gun violence prevention movement, and I'm excited to see what comes next for this year's participants."
With all the tragic mass shootings around the country, the men and women of the NFL (National Football League) and the other professional sports leagues have taken steps to prevent gun violence around the country. In 2019, players from the NFL, NBA and WNBA partnered to launch the Everytown Athletic Council. Rams Captain Aaron Donald and Rams Legend Stedman Bailey, whose career was cut short by gun violence, are both members of the Everytown Athletic Council and work hard to reduce gun violence.
"At the Los Angeles Rams, we pride ourselves on listening and responding to the greatest community needs," said Johnathan Franklin, Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development. "In California, every three hours someone receives a call of a family member, spouse or child impacted by gun violence. We are grateful for Everytown for Gun Safety and the critical work they are doing to create change and address this public health crisis that is affecting our community, our state and the nation."
To learn more about the Rams' community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.