5-school conflict resolution tour aims to teach Philadelphia kids about dealing with violence

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Wednesday, May 15, 2024
5-school conflict resolution tour aims to teach Philadelphia kids about dealing with violence
5-school conflict resolution tour aims to teach Philadelphia kids about dealing with violence

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As Aniyah Robinson prepared to go into the auditorium of Martin Luther King High School in Germantown for a special conflict resolution program on Wednesday, she reflected on how the issue impacts students at her school.

"It's a lot of tension in this building," said the 10th grader.

Her principal has seen some of that tension first-hand.

"Kids are in conflicts in everyday situations. Part of it is that they don't know what to do," said Keisha Williams, principal of Martin Luther King High School.

That's one reason why the What I Wish I Knew Foundation is bringing its conflict resolution tour to MLK High School, which is also the alma mater of the nonprofit's founder, Emmanuel Clark, better known as "Manny 215."

"I literally went here, ran these hallways," he said in between speaking to the crowd of students.

The event is officially known as the "Don't Get Tricked Out Ya Spot Conflict Resolution Tour."

Clark says the expression refers to people allowing others to make them act outside their character, causing them to lose opportunities.

"We're here to basically give the students another perspective on how to deal with conflict," said Clark. "We understand a lot of the violence that's going on in the city, a lot of it stems from us just not knowing what we don't know."

Amir Laws is a 10th grader who recently lost his brother to gun violence. He has seen violent situations grow from simple disagreements that began years ago.

"We start off as kids. The kid ain't like the other kid," he said. "Then they get older, around 15 or 16, start wanting to shoot each other."

"It should never like get to that point," said Robinson. "We're just children at the end of every day."

The conflict resolution tour featured local activists, performers, and social media stars who all spoke to the kids and offered them tangible solutions to solving conflicts.

It's something Wilkins says many kids have not been exposed to before.

"(If I'm a kid in that situation) I have nobody to tell me how to not fight with you, physically fight with you," she said.

"We're just here to give them another perspective so next time they're in a situation, they can move a little differently," said Clark.

The nonprofit founder returns to his old high school regularly, hoping to impart to kids the things he learned as he made mistakes in life.

"Manny has always been the person who reached out to me and said, 'Hey principal, can I come up and talk to kids?'" said Wilkins. "For my students here, it is simply about making better choices."

Clark hopes that being educated on those better choices will give young people a new way to handle conflict without using violence.

"My hope is for the students to walk away from this assembly inspired to want to be change-makers in the community."

For more information on What I Wish I Knew Foundation and the conflict resolution tour, visit whatiwishiknewfoundation.org/.