Philly teen summer camp: Crucial Youth Conflict Resolution Program is back

24 kids in West Philadelphia have gathered this summer to learn the skills of conflict resolution, healthy coping mechanisms and ways to communicate effectively amongst their peers.

The Youth Conflict Resolution Program started back in the early 90s and is back in action! 

"I used to always fight, that was my go-to," recalled Rashidah Cornitcher, Ultimate Visions Dreamers Foundation Founder. 


Program teaches Philly youth conflict resolution skills to avoid violence

A four-week long summer youth program in West Philadelphia is building conflict resolution skills in the community.

Rashindah Cornitcher is the founder of Ultimate Visions Dreamers Foundation and a product of the original Youth Conflict Resolution Program during her middle school years. 

"One fight led to me almost losing my life. I got cut by a razor two inches from my jugular and my mom forced me into this program. Summer of ‘93," said Cornitcher. 

She says the program changed her life. 

"Once the program went away, I always felt that it was something that was needed," said Cornitcher.

Fast-forward to 2024, thanks to grants and anti-violence partnerships, the program is back and in full swing four days a week this summer.

Cameron Atkinson is 15 years old and he says this program is vital for kids in his generation.

"People my age, kids my age or younger are getting killed, gun violence even stabbings," said Atkinson. "They’re not dying of old age, they are being taken, their lives are being taken as teenagers and many of them couldn’t resolve the little conflicts they had in school."

Program leaders say Atkinson is a stand-out student and is taking his experience with this ankle monitor as a learning opportunity.

"The only thing I could do is moving forward, try not to make those same decisions or the same mistakes and just push myself for better," said the 15-year-old. "Conflict resolution, ways to like calm yourself down, resolve conflict."

15-year-old Samiyah Johnso agreed.

"It’s always good that you do so that you know how to handle different situations, how to understand your emotions, how to express your feelings," said Samiyah Johnson.

Dr. Chris Roye Gill was the original instructor of the program back in 1993 coming out of retirement to instill these skills into the next generation.

"We tell parents from the very beginning, we don’t have an answer to the gun violence, I don’t want to pretend we have that solution," said Dr. Chris Roye Gill. "My hope is that the children will learn some communication skills that can properly get them to assess a situation they’re in while still at the verbal level, use effective communication to work through that interaction and walk away from it."

Changing kids' lives for the better while equipping them with the skills they need to thrive and survive.