NEW YORK (AP) — A group of young people at a jail complex got some words of encouragement on Thursday from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and actor LL Cool J.
The two visited Rikers Island to mark the launch of a national anti-violence program from Simmons’ RushCard, a prepaid debit card.
RushCard’s Keep the Peace initiative is giving grants to neighborhood organizations. One of those is LIFE Camp, a Queens organization that works with young people, including those at Rikers, to reduce violence.
Cool J told the audience that his rough upbringing could have had him where they are if things had worked out differently, and he encouraged them to believe in themselves.
“You can absolutely without a doubt do anything you put your mind to,” he said.
Simmons told them to focus on what’s inside them.
“It’s your spirit you’ve got to work on,” he said.
Deputy Warden Clement Glenn said partnering with programs like LIFE Camp is among the ways the Department of Correction tries to get young people to change their behavior.
We’re “trying to encourage them not to come back into the system, hoping they will integrate into society and become contributing members of their community,” he said.