Bishop’s student does his part to fight youth violenceBy Leigh Ann Dewey
To many La Jolla youngsters, the world of youth gang violence may seem light years away from their family, school, neighborhood and circle of friends. But 13-year-old George Champion, a Bishop’s School seventh-grader, sees the problem as one he wants to help solve.
George recently held a holiday party at his home and collected donations from his friends to benefit the Tariq Khamisa Foundation. The San Diego group was founded by Azim Khamisa in 1995 after his 20-year-old son, Tariq, was killed by a 14-year-old youngster.
TKF’s mission is to transform violence-prone, at-risk youth into nonviolent, achieving individuals, and create safe and productive schools. The program, aimed at sixth- through eighth-graders, teaches students about the realities of violence, forgiveness, gangs and the importance of making positive choices.
George learned about the foundation while doing his homework in the family’s computer room. His parents Jill and George Sr., who were invited to a TKF benefit but could not attend, were curious about the group and visited its website. There, in addition to learning about its mission, they viewed scenes of gang violence victims and their grief-stricken families. Video testimonials by middle school students affected by gang violence are also posted.
“George wondered what we were looking at,” said Jill, and was deeply affected by what he saw. At that moment, the violence did not seem so far away. “He said, ‘that’s just 10 miles down the road.’”
George asked his parents if he could hold a party to benefit TKF, and they agreed. He e-mailed invitations asking his friends to bring donations.
“I told them it was to stop gang violence,” he said, “and they thought it was a good idea.”
His mother said she that with his busy school schedule, she was impressed by the time George spent planning the party. But she wasn’t surprised that he wanted to do it. “He’s always been a thoughtful person,” she said. On his 12th birthday, “he said he didn’t want presents, but for everyone instead to bring a check to the ASPCA in Linda Vista,” where the family adopted its dog.
George collected a total of $325, and delivered the donation personally to the foundation’s headquarters. He was greeted by staff members who thanked him for his support in words and personally signed messages.
“They gave me very warm welcome,” said George. “It’s a good charity. You really can change people’s lives.”
For more information about the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, go to www.tkf.org.
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