More than 200 children filled the bleachers with bright yellow T-shirts at Catherine and Count Basie Middle School in Jamaica, Queens. The student’s participated in an in-depth meditation session led by former hip-hop pioneer turned philanthropist Russell Simmons.

As part of RushCard’s Keep the Peace initiative, an annual program that supports nonprofit, community-based organizations, Simmons gave a motivational talk and conducted a public group meditation for inner-city youth.

Utilizing the traditional Sanskrit concept “instrument of the mind” during the meditation, Simmons instructed students ages 8 to 17 to repeat the word “rum” and close their eyes until their minds became relaxed.

“When the mind is quiet you can excel, when the mind is noisy you can do nothing,” Simmons said. “If you meditate every day, you can slow the world down.”

Last summer, Simmons used a similar technique with imprisoned youth at Rikers Island, as part of a program in which he partnered with rapper and actor LL Cool J to help increase the peace and reduce the violence in the community.

The anti-violence group LIFE Camp, whose members wear orange T-shirts to discourage gang culture, received a $25,000 grant from RushCard, a company that offers prepaid debit cards, to help support and expand their peacekeeping efforts.

“The peacekeepers are in orange,” LIFE Camp founder Erica Ford said. “We are tired of the red running in the streets, which is the blood of our children.”

In the winter of 2014, shootings occurred not far from M.S. 72, widely known as Catherine and Count Basie Middle School, in Queens. Because of increased activism, the area has not experienced a shooting since December, according to Ford.

In an exclusive interview with the AmNews, Simmons commented on the racial incongruities presented in minority communities across the nation.

“Violence is never the answer … kids are dying at an alarming rate,” Simmons said. “Chicago is having the worst summer ever—50 kids get shot, and they don’t even make the news.”

The Hollis, Queens, native added,“It’s a horrible situation in some of these communities, and it won’t change until we eliminate the core of the problem.”

As a basketball game between LIFE Camp volunteers and NYPD officers tipped off in the school gymnasium, Danika Murphy, 12, of the Collaborative Arts School in Springfield Gardens, Queens, told of how she learned new methods to control her response to bullies.

“Problems should be resolved with words instead of your fists,” Murphy said. “I can use Russell’s techniques. Whenever someone is getting you angry, you should sit, meditate, close your eyes and move on.”

Basketball coach and NYPD officer of 20 years John Haynes, of the 113th Precinct in Queens, is appreciative of the anti-violence sentiments held throughout his community.

“I lost a couple kids to violence,” Haynes said. “It bothered me and it’s a shame how it happens.”

In his wallet, Haynes carries a 3.5-inch-by-2-inch card that reads, “In Memory of Darryl Adams.” Adams was a teen whose life came to an abrupt end when he was shot at the South Jamaica Houses in 2012.

“To me, he was a good kid … all he wanted to do was play basketball,” Haynes said. “Every time I talk about it, I start crying. This is something I want to do, and we do this a lot.”

RushCard will present more than $100,000 in grants to recipients in New Orleans, Chicago, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and New York City.