Highland Park’s Human Relations Committee Chairman, Ashton Burrell, ‘The Man of Impact’ led the way

Highland Park, NJ – July 13 2018 - A 7:00p.m on Friday, June 8, 2018, Ashton Burrell a community leader, award winning author, and the founder of LIVE (Life In Visions of Evolutions) Mentorship Program, held his 2nd Annual “Shoot Hoops Not Guns” basketball game located at the Highland Park High School. This community event advocates for gun violence awareness and safety measures within our communities and schools.  Rita’s Italian Ice of Edison, NJ sponsored this event.

The night’s events respectfully commenced with a moment of silence in dedication and reflection to victims around the world whose lives were lost from gun violence and was followed by families submitting a list of fallen victims that was read aloud by Burrell.  Shortly after, Councilwoman Elsie Foster-Dublin of the Highland Park, Municipal Government presented the victims’ families and friends with proclamations on behalf of the town solidifying their loved ones will be remembered in history within the town.

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The Highland Park and neighboring communities were in full attendance, the bleachers were filled with individual races, ethnicities, and religions with one common goal to stop gun violence and bring the necessary awareness surrounding it. The venue was surrounded by the sounds of today’s music as the DJ played all night and the smell of fresh popcorn. During half -time the crowd heard from family members of victims of gun violence (stories).  One specific woman who spoke was a mother of two who lost her fiancé, father of her children a few months ago. She thanked Burrell for his efforts and rallied the crowd to help with putting an end to gun violence. This game was also very emotional for Burrell himself as days prior to the game his childhood friend was gunned down on his way home after being in the wrong place at the wrong time. To commemorate his fallen friend, Burrell’s decision to make the game day shirts red and blue was to signify the color of their favorite National Basketball Association (NBA) team the Philadelphia 76ers.  The players of the game consisted of current members vs. alumni members (who serve as mentors for the current members) of Ashton Burrell’s LIVE mentorship program where the alumni managed to snatch the title for the 2018 win. Even though the current young men of LIVE lost to their mentor great sportsmanship was shown with the shaking of hands between the two teams.

LIVE Mentorship Program is successful in building leadership skills, self-confidence and a “can-do” attitude among its membership. In fact, since inception, 100% of all seniors who have gone through the Live Mentorship Program have graduated high school. Burrell founded LIVE Mentorship Program in 2011 while a sophomore at Lincoln University in Oxford, PA. Burrell is well known for his award-winning community engagement and his commitment to helping young people foster interpersonal and intrapersonal skills required to succeed in life. Burrell’s primary pursuit to ensure the youth of today are focused on learning, absorbing and performing with a commitment to excellence is unmet and believes our committees are direct results of such a success. His efforts were proven by his dedication in traveling two hours from Pennsylvania to his hometown of Highland Park, NJ each Thursday evening to mentor at-risk adolescents and young adults between the ages of 9 – 19.  The Live Mentorship Program provides its members with the opportunity to participate in character-building service projects to afford basic necessities to the community, such as food drives; charity basketball events to collect canned goods and seasonal toys; blanket collects for the children in Malawi, Africa; and annual events specifically to raise cancer awareness. The members of LIVE Mentorship Program cook / prepare meals for families with short and long term lodging needs while seeking pediatric medical care at the Ronald McDonald House in New Brunswick, NJ.

“The effort put into this event each year and the outpouring in response from our community shows the reciprocity and fervor we collectively have to ensure our kids are safe and it is critical that Highland Park continues to make our community aware as a preventative measure. No more lives need to be lost!” says Burrell.

Burrell also received the 2018 Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Omega Mu Zeta Chapter’s Social Action Award in early May at the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick, NJ. This award is given each year to community leaders who have made significant contributions to making New Jersey a better place.

In addition to all of Burrell’s activities, he still finds time to prioritize his role as a mentor to his younger brother Arlington Burrell, a 16-year-old sophomore at Piscataway Technical High School in pursuit of a future as an entrepreneur with an upcoming launch of his much-anticipated clothing line this Summer “Summer Nights”. Arlington Burrell stated, “This fashion line was created to help the consumers who are ‘broken’ (mentally, emotionally and spiritually) to put themselves back together. I want to see everyone do good in life and flourish to their highest potential.”

Ashton Burrell received a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Lincoln University (the United States’ first degree-granting historically black university) and is currently a doctoral candidate at North Central University studying Educational Global Development. Ashton Burrell is surely making an imprint on the legacy his alumni set forth. Burrell’s achievements are not only making waves locally but seem to be making a bigger splash across New Jersey.  Sounds like there is more to look forward to from this young man in the near future.