The J-DEF Peace Project

Carol Neiger

We are always presented with a surprise gift on our annual Summer Fun Day. Summer Fun Day is a great day for us-and full of surprises. We start out with a strategy session for NeigerDesign. Presentations are developed by every member of the team. Then we go and have fun! We explore Chicago-with a different theme every year. This year's theme was immigration and Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods. This year's surprise? While walking in Pilsen (after a fantastic experience at the National Museum of Mexican Art), we came upon a group of students of Solorio High School creating a beautiful mosaic mural for the J-DEF Peace Project. The J-DEF Peace Project mission is to end violence among young adults in Chicago. "We aim to accomplish our mission by creating a safe place to encourage and create art-based curriculum for underserved youth in Chicago. Using various artistic methods we promote wellness in the kids of our communities, our programming focuses on peaceful conflict resolution that creates positive impacts." The project honors the memory of Jeff Abbey Maldonado, Jr., known as J-Def by friends, was a passionate young man with a love of all things art. He was a hip-hop artist who dedicated his time to his craft and to others. An avid member of After School Matters, J-Def wanted nothing more than to succeed in life and be noticed as an artist. He was passionate for music and would showcase his artistic abilities through graffiti. J-Def was tragically shot a day after his nineteenth birthday in a case of mistaken identity. Learn more about the J-Def Project. We all need to get involved in doing something about Chicago's gang problems.