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Youth boxing program attempts to knock out gun violence

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WRTV) -- The founder of the New Breed of Youth program - or N.E.W. Boy - wanted to attack gun violence in our city head-on. That's the inspiration behind the boxing program "Guns Down, Gloves Up."

“We use boxing as a vehicle to mentor young people,” said Kareem Hines, New Breed of Youth mentoring and youth development program founder. “Unfortunately, a lot of the young people that we work with have aggression issues, a lot of behavioral issues. What we provide in our boxing program is not only a chance to talk about the violence that’s going on in our city, specifically the gun violence, but we also, we’re able to give our youth the outlet - a physical outlet - to let some of that aggression out in a constructive and positive environment.”

Through a little physical activity, young men and women are able to let out some aggression, while also being given a chance to open up.

“The joy I get out of it is just like being around other people my age that are going though the same things,” said Patrick Collier, who is 15 years old. “Because it’s hard to find a community outside of school and stuff like that. We have a lot of the same things in common. We share a lot of the same backstory and it’s like things that we’ve been through to help us build on top of each other is fun.”

“Our boys are told or they are defined by social media and music that you’re not a man unless you can pick up a gun,” said Hines. “You’re not a gun man unless you can shoot a gun. If you have conflict with somebody, it’s best just to go ahead and take them out.”

Hines says this program teaches teens there’s another way.

“When we are able to talk to our young people about anti-violence through boxing and teach conflict resolution, a lot of them come back and say I was ready to go there at school today or I had a little issue in my neighborhood,” he said. “But instead of going there and picking up a gun or going that route, I told him come to the Guns Down, Gloves Up program; we can box here at the program. That’s a win. Because instead of them dealing with it in their neighborhood and we might see them on one of your news stories, we actually see them the next day in the boxing program.”

It allows young people the space to talk about their real struggles before things escalate.

“Every time, I just take away a different way to think about my problems at home or school or whatever I’m dealing with, it just gives me another insight,” said Collier.

“I’ll speak for me I know a couple other people, it boosts their confidence in being able to open their voice,” said Joaquin Harmon-Segura, who is 16 years old. “Because there’s a lot of people that will come in and they will just be laid-back, they don’t care. But as they come to the groups, they get to talk more and open more up.”

This story was originally reported by Stephanie Wade on wrtv.com.