To continue supporting gun violence prevention, the Los Angeles Rams have partnered with Students Demand Action, part of the local Everytown for Gun Safety Network, to host a discussion on addressing gun violence in the part of Impact Day, an event to close the 2022 Los Angeles Leadership Summer 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 address guns and community violence. Participating students also had the opportunity to pitch their 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 Student Demand Action volunteer and former Summer Leadership Academy participant.
“As Mayor of Inglewood and a former police officer, I know gun violence all too well,” said Inglewood Mayor James Butts. “While making our communities safe requires a multi-faceted approach, addressing the number of guns flooding our streets is an essential and necessary first step. I am proud to see these young leaders in Los Angeles become leaders of this movement. “
The Los Angeles Summer Leadership Academy was founded in 2019 and has just entered its fourth year. Their initiative prioritizes breaking down barriers that prevent marginalized students from becoming leaders in the gun violence prevention movement. These barriers include access to free meals, mentorship and transportation for 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, DC 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 essential leadership skills.
“Participating in the Summer Leadership Academy last year was an incredibly meaningful experience for me that made being a judge this year all the more special,” said Ashley Castillo, a Student Demand Action volunteer and former participant in the Summer Leadership Academy. “My experience is proof 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’s next for this year’s participants.”
With all the tragic mass shootings across the country, the men and women of the NFL (National Football League) and other professional sports leagues have taken action to prevent gun violence across the country. In 2019, players from the NFL, NBA, and WNBA teamed up to launch the Everytown Athletic Council. Rams captain Aaron Donald and Rams legend Stedman Bailey, whose careers were 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 needs of the community,” said Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development Johnathan Franklin. “In California, every three hours, someone receives a call from a family member, spouse or child affected by gun violence. We are grateful for Everytown for Gun Safety and the essential work they are doing to create change and solve 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.