Seven local youth and one adult performed at the Capital Area YMCA in Trenton this past Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20. in honor of Dr. King’s legacy of public service and giving back to the community.

The event was also held to support The First Tee of Greater Trenton, a local organization teaching children invaluable life skills through the game of golf.

The event was organized by the WW-P Young Leaders of America, a completely student-run affiliate organization of TFTGT mentoring local children and Aneisha Felton, youth programs administrative assistant at the YMCA.

Though few attended the event, the octet of performers offered their talents to a diverse and eager audience.

In addition to myself, other performers included: Akshay Tiwari, Crosby Davidson, Henry Furey and Simon Cheng— all from West Windsor-Plainsboro high schools; Alex Ni and Trevor Guo from the Hun School; Priyanka Tiwari from Rutgers University; and Dr. Yingchao “YZ” Zhang, former West Windsor Council vice president and former member of the WW-P Board of Education. We showcased talents from around the world, from Turkish guitar to Chinese Kung Fu.

Among those who came to support were: Edward Benson, executive director of TFTGT, Mary Horne, Robert McGill and Teresa Roberts, all coaches with TFTGT; and Samuel Frisby, current Mercer County freeholder and CEO of the Capital Area YMCA.

The purpose of the performance was to highlight the diversity in not only the acts, but the performers themselves. Diversity was a virtue that Dr. King cherished because of its power to unify people under one banner for equity and positive change.

Dr. YZ offered valuable insight into King’s character after performing Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” as part of his his one-man-band act.

He said he chose to perform “Heart of Gold,” because “I found it interesting that the title of the song used the word gold and not silver or another precious metal. Unlike silver, gold is the color of the sun—full, round and warm—much like Dr. King’s personality. I believe his heart is made of gold and the purest of our generation.”

Dr. YZ also addressed the dynamic between love and hate after performing “The Moon Shows My Love,” a Chinese pop song.

“The moon in Chinese symbolizes love,” he said. “One would think that it should be the Sun, since love is full, round, and warm. However, the moon represents love’s highs and lows. The moon is always full, it’s just that our eyes don’t always see it, just like we can’t always see true love. Only by searching deep within ourselves can we do so. So remember, love always trumps hate.”

As for the Young Leaders of America, all good things start small and grow big, so we’re definitely going to hold more performances benefitting TFTGT, not just at the YMCA, but at Christina Seix Academy, local senior centers and many more.

We’re also looking to get more local students involved and spread The First Tee’s Nine Core Values—honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgement. All TFTGT and YLA members love bringing joy to the community.

Alex Ni and Simon Cheng are returning participants, having already performed at the Merwick Care & Rehabilitation Center in Plainsboro and Galilee Baptist Church in Trenton to critical acclaim.

Alex said that the performances, “are fun, and I can’t wait for the next one.” Simon said that these events, “were meaningful not only to [him] but also the community at large.”

We will be holding more performances in the near future to bring joy to the local community.

Raymond Jin

Jin is a junior at High School North and founder and president of Young Leaders of America.