Youth program teaches students how to resolve conflict without violence

(WSVN) - He has seen the worst, but a Miami man is turning his tragedy into triumph, one child at a time. He started a mentoring program that teaches students how to resolve conflict withour resorting to violence. Here’s 7’s Craig Stevens with tonight’s Hope and Healing.

Jonathan Spikes, Affirming Youth: “Aaand action!”

Student 1: “You wanna fight me, you got a problem?”

Student 2: “I don’t know you like that. I don’t think you wanna fight.”

These students are not really fighting.

Jonathan Spikes: “What was the negative outcome of the fight?”

But they are learning that a bit of drama can have real-life consequences.

Jonathan Spikes: “Temporary satisfaction gets you arrested. You got to go to court, can’t get a job, your grades go down.”

It’s all part of a mentoring program at Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Center in Miami Gardens, one of the toughest neighborhoods in South Florida.

Jonathan Spikes: “You’re just 14 years old, and you already have fears that it could be you getting shot next?”

Their teacher is Jonathan Spikes, who founded Affirming Youth, an organization which focuses on teaching kids self-worth.

Jonathan Spikes: “When you find yourself getting upset, take a deep breath.”

He’s teaching a lesson from his “Let’s Talk It OUT” program, which is all about resolving conflict without violence.

The program is so successful, it’s currently being taught in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Jonathan Spikes: “Who else has those types of feelings?”

Jonathan grew up in the Scott Projects in Liberty City. He knows about gun violence first hand.

Jonathan Spikes: “When I was 6 years old, my brother, he was shot in the knee.”

And then at 21, Jonathan saw another one of his brothers get shot in the street. This brother didn’t survive.

Jonathan Spikes: “It fueled me to go out and go back to my community and say, ‘Listen, we have options, you have choices.'”

Jonathan has dedicated his life to teaching inner city kids the alternatives to violence.

Miami Lakes High School students Devry Russell and Kwaynesha Spencer say they have definitely learned from Jonathan.

Devry Russell: “The way he turned it out at the end, to show us that there are more negative effects than positive effects, really made everybody think about what they should be doing.”

Kwaynesha Spencer: “I’d rather someone teach me how to do things, that has actually gone through the situation, than someone to just come out and say you shouldn’t do it.”

So, ZIP code by ZIP code, Jonathan will continue to spread his message of hope to the children who need it most.

Jonathan Spikes: “Now they know they have options. They don’t have to get negative consequences.”

If you’d like to know more about the programs Jonathan offers, log on to

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