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Teen fights bullying with festival

Posted: November 3, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 3, 2012 2:00 a.m.

From left, Karson Gibson, Breanna Harris, Brendan Ashley, Garrett McGrath and Tommy Sweet perform at Project J at Village Church in Newhall on Sunday. The event had live bands, fellowship and prizes.

The Village Church hosted the first Project J: Rocktoberfest, a festival attended by nearly 500 local residents and teens Sunday.

The event brought together residents of the Santa Clarita Valley with fellowship, live bands and prizes like iPads, iPods and One Direction concert tickets.

Project J, or Project Jesus, was the idea of Canyon High School senior Elijah Veluzat, the grandson of the Village Church’s pastor Andrew Veluzat. Elijah was inspired by his younger brother’s struggle with a form of high-functioning autism and constant bullying by his classmates.

This year, the family moved him to a new school and found an immediate change.

“He came home the first day and said he made 20 friends today,” Elijah said about his younger brother. “He is such a great kid and so full of love. So many kids don’t want to go to school and can’t face the next day. Seeing the smile on my brother’s face drove me to do an event that would spread smiles on more people’s faces.”

The event was planned within two months and spread by word of mouth, fliers and local businesses. Elijah, who was the main speaker of the event, used props to tell attendees about the unconditional love of Jesus Christ and highlight the issue of bullying.

“We hope it helped a lot of young people having everyday struggles of life,” said Daniel Veluzat, Elijah’s father and event coordinator.

Organizers hope to make Project J an annual event in the valley to bring the youth together, raise awareness to bullying and equality, spread the love of God and serve others through their event and message.

“I wanted to share with everyone that we have someone who loves us unconditionally every day, Jesus Christ,” Elijah said.



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