JUST KEEP LIVIN: Program founded by Matthew McConaughey helps students learn life-skills

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LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – A program founded by East Texas native, Matthew McConaughey is helping students in Longview ISD learn how to be a good neighbor and lend a helping hand.

“‘Just Keep Livin’ focuses around 4 key philosophies; nutrition, fitness, and my two favorites are community service and gratitude,” said Elizabeth Ross, Longview ISD.

Two days a week, Longview High School students take a break from the classroom to learn life lessons that aren’t always provided to them.

“All you have to do is just look at the kids, you see a lot of dreams, a lot of hope, it’s very inspiring to work with them,” said Camilla McConaughey.

Studies show that teens who skip after-school programs are nearly three times as likely to use drugs, drinks, and skip class, which is why ‘Just Keep Livin’ focuses on physical development and community involvement.

Through McConaughey’s program, students have the ability to share what type of person they hope to be and what they want to gain out of life.

“That’s really cool because you get to share things about you that people really didn’t know,” said Trent Reid, Sophomore.

By sharing their life stories with other students, many have developed friendships that are like family.

“They are my family now,” said Sophia Trnavsky, Freshman. “I literally call them my JKL family.”

With a growing concern that students are spending more time on their phones and computers, the program is cracking the screen and focusing on fitness and health as two key aspects.

“We just want to change a few small habits in ways that they can, in ways that they find enjoyable to do,” said Matthew McConaughey.

“We exercise a lot,” said Breasia Simmons, Sophomore. “I would like to get more fit.”

While fitness and health are important, the goal is to encourage students to thrive in every aspect of their lives.

“You’re life journey it goes either into two directions, you can be a really positive path where you’re really making a great decision that could affect the rest of your life or you can go down a different path,” said Ross.

‘Just Keep Livin’ offers high schoolers a special opportunity, but the program also offers middle school students the ability to develop skills through Thrive 360.

Some of these skills have changed the way students act in the classroom and at home, which many parents find transformational and inspiring.

“I have a parent come to me and say oh my goodness I have seen such a difference in my son or my daughter’s life,” said Clint Holmes, Thrive 360 Director.

Whether it is through other’s eyes or behind closed doors, these students are growing to be better people who want to do the right thing.

“It made me realize that I need to take part of what I do and do the right thing when no one else is watching me,” said Simmons.

The program is one-year long and is free and open to anyone wishing to join.

What started as an inspiration is now a step toward a brighter future for many kids. All thanks to Longview native, Matthew McConaughey.

More about the program can be found: HERE

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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