LITTLE ROCK, Ark – A new afterschool program is hoping to slow down violence in Little Rock.

The program started by Project Renew Inc. teaches kids how to manage their anger properly, acting critically instead of on instinct. It all starts with a look inward.

Standing in front of a mirror, program director Venita Franklin motions to one of her students.

“Ok Gabi, you are?” Franklin asked.

“I am nervous,” Gabi Terrell said.

The exchange between the two shows a glimpse into the start of the weekly program, designed to build self-confidence and manage emotions in young kids.

Tuesday, Terrell sat down for an interview with a smile on her face, a 180 from where Franklin said she was just a few months ago.

“When she first came here, she was being bullied,” Franklin said.

The seventh grader was faced with a new wave of emotions in school and says she often acted on instinct.

“The way I used to deal with bullying is fighting, but now I deal with it perfectly,” Terrell said.

Pen to paper, Terrell writes down her feelings, a new form of expression taught week by week in the program.

“Don’t let the first thing you do be anger or to fight,” Franklin said. “You know it’s natural to have those feelings but don’t act on it.”

Kindness is something Franklin said she is working to instill in youth in southwest Little Rock, hoping to stop a growing sense of violence.

“There is a need for us to step in and kind of show kids a better way,” Franklin said.

Franklin said by listening to kids, you can help them on a better path forward.

“We want our girls to learn how to love themselves,” Franklin said. “For our young men, we want to empower them to be strong young men.”

The program serves students ages 11-16. Right now, the group meets once a week, but Franklin is hoping to expand in the summer.