The Youth Peace Olympics program will kick off its fifth year April 20-21 with an opening ceremony, parade and youth summit.

The Youth Peace Olympics is a south Baton Rouge-based program designed to help mentor and guide at-risk youth by teaching them character-building skills, sportsmanship and a commitment to peace and nonviolence.

The two days of events are free and open to the public.

At 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, the opening ceremony will feature live entertainment including 2 Is Better Than 1, an award-winning gospel recording group; singers Alana Buckley and Ariel Pierre; and Erion Davidson, author of “Keep Running: How to Endure When Life Looks Impossible.” There also will be performances by a variety of praise teams. The event will be held at BREC’s Ben Burge Recreation Center, 9350 Antigua Drive.

On Saturday, April 21, activities begin with a parade and peace march at 9 a.m. at the recreation center followed at 11 a.m. by a Youth Summit for ages 10 to 16 at BREC's Perkins Road Community Park, 7122 Perkins Road.

The parade will be led by the group's new Youth Ambassador KT Muyaka, an accomplished musician and student at Woodlawn High School. The summit will include discussions on gun control and tips to lead a healthier, more successful lifestyle.

The local program is based on one founded by the Rev. Mary Wade and members of the Building Respect for our Communities organization in Philadelphia. 

Youth ages 10 to 16 meet once a month from April to August to learn valuable life lessons and skills. The students also go on various field trips. Since its inception, more than 200 students have participated in the local program.

For more information, visit youthpeaceolympics.org  or call (225) 272-7029.