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West Indy church focuses on youth, conflict resolution with RESPECT Academy

A west Indianapolis church is hoping to make an impact on crime by helping youth with conflict resolution.

INDIANAPOLIS — A west Indianapolis church is hoping to make an impact on crime by helping youth with conflict resolution.

Pastor Ronald Covington, of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, recalls the day he says he wanted to enact change.

"There were some children playing basketball and the only thing we were hearing was the F-word," said Covington. "There were adults out there and (kids had) no respect whatsoever."

Covington said late one night, God gave him a vision of how to help youth in Indianapolis.

"We try to teach them a better way, but it's mostly building this relationship with them," said Covington.

That relationship is fostered through a six-week program he helped develop called Respect Academy. Thirty students recently graduated.

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"We incorporate just about every learning method you can think of," said Kieana Franklin, who also helped design the program.

She also teaches youth. One focus of the program is conflict resolution.

Credit: WTHR

"The young people are not finding the right way to handle conflict," Covington said. "Everybody wants to pick up a gun. Not just pick up a gun, but a lot of these young people are carrying guns, and so we try to teach people there is a better way."

Instructors often teach through music.

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"We even take some of the popular rap songs and songs that youth love," said Franklin. "One Saturday, we just got creative and we're, like, 'We know this is a very popular song.' It had a lot to do with betrayal and two friends who were no longer friends anymore, and we talked about how could this be worked out. What could this look like because these are real issues that our young people do face?"

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The academy is geared towards youth ages 10 to 16.

"We have to reach them here, while they're young, and begin to mold them," Covington said.

Covington said before each student graduates, they must memorize the creed:

R - Respect: I will respect myself and others.
E - Excellence: I will strive for excellence.
S - Special: I'm not just ordinary, I'm special.
P - Perfection: I will strive for perfection.
E - Education: I will get an education.
C - Committed: I am committed to the cause.
T - Transform: I will transform my community.

"We don't want this to be something that's just for youth in Haughville or just for youth at Friendship. We want to reach the city of Indianapolis," said Franklin.

The next Respect Academy begins in late September. Registration is $25. Send an email to RespectAcademy22@gmail.com for more information.

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