SOMERSET, NJ – Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins – better known as the Three Doctors – recognized the students who participated in the 2019 Positive Peer Pressure Challenge at the Three Doctors Foundation Holiday Basketball Benefit at Franklin High School today. 

Students from Franklin Township to Brooklyn worked since July to better their communities by launching or participating in programs that focus on health, education, leadership and mentorship. 

Davis, Hunt and Jenkins all grew up in Newark and used positive peer pressure to push each other towards their goals. They built the foundation almost 20 years ago to be the positive role models that they felt they lacked growing up. The foundation uses the Positive Peer Pressure challenge to put a spotlight on the work kids are doing to better their communities. 

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“More young people are doing positive things right now and it allows them to get the kind of recognition for that effort that otherwise they might not,” Executive Director of the Three Doctors Foundation Windy White said. 

The basketball game and project showcase highlighted the success these kids are having in their neighborhoods and exposed their work to a larger audience. 

“Success is not only achievement,” Franklin Township Superintendent John Ravally said. “Success is measured by how much one gives back to the community.” 

A group of high school students who made the trip down from Brooklyn displayed their work with homeless families and victims of domestic abuse. The cosmetology students used their skills to provide free hairstyling and manicures to those who need it. 

Serenity McKnight, a junior at W.H. Maxwell High School, said her favorite thing about doing this work is seeing the faces of the kids after they get their hair done. 

“Kids smile for everything, but you can see the different smile on a child when they’re actually, genuinely happy about something,” she said. “When they know their parents probably don’t (have the money) for it and you can do it for them and you can let them think their parents are doing it for them you see them so happy.” 

Another student from W.H. Maxwell, senior Essence Parker said that for her it’s helping victims of domestic abuse find some normalcy through getting their hair and nails done that motivates her to donate her time and talents. 

“The situation they’re in they’re not going to feel like themselves,” Parker said. “So when they get their hair done they’re smiling and it lifts them up.”

Quincy Elliott and Jaedon Powell, a pair of fifth-graders from Connerly Road School who love mystery books and Daniel Handler’s A Series of Unfortunate Events respectively, took their love of reading and built a program where students can donate books they’ve already read to get new books in return.

They’ve even built a provision into what they call The Beaming Book Exchange that allows kids who are unable to donate books to take home some new reading material. Students have already donated 125 books from 25 students with the program still ongoing. 

“We like to read and we want to encourage more students to read,” said Elliott. 

Two eighth-graders from the Sampson G. Smith school in Franklin are tackling what they say is an under-acknowledged problem for middle school students: Anxiety. 

“Anxiety is never talked about,” said Emma Desai. “It should really be something that everybody should be informed about. Just thinking about what we’ve gone through in middle school and we actually had anxiety and we weren’t able to identify it until we saw the research.” 

The students said that after researching the condition on their own, they realized that it’s something that many people deal with, but there’s little education available to students on how to identify the symptoms of anxiety, making it harder for students to seek help. 

“We were looking for something in our school that we could help solve,” said Maya Zavatsky. “We realized that there was nothing to help the kids who are going through struggles like this and going to high school it’s only going to get worse. 

The young women are working to include discussions about anxiety into the social-emotional learning curriculum that the school already provides. They said an elementary school principal who saw their presentation at the event already approached them about presenting their work to elementary school students. 

It’s through showcases like the Positive Peer Pressure Challengethat students like Zavatsky, Desai and their peers can extend the reach of their efforts to have a broader impact on their community.