On weekends, Pezo Johnson finesses the radio for ATLiens on Streetz 94.5. Outside the radio station, he’s changing the lives of young women and men. Pezo leads a youth anger management program, P.O.P. Program (Poems Over Pistols) that teaches participants to harness their anger into a rap, poem, song or short story.
“We’re losing a lot of kids to violence. I see a lot kids in schools that have anger problems. I really think that there should be a certified anger management person in every school. Instead of putting them in ISS, try to teach them about what’s making them mad”, says Pezo.
For over a decade, Pezo worked in several radio markets -- Atlanta, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. Within each market he made a point to work full-time with youth in detention centers and group homes. Unbeknownst to many of the youths in these facilities Pezo was a radio personality on their favorite radio station.
"We all got to put our pieces together to create that picture for the future."
In 2009, a lay off from a hip hop radio station in Atlanta kick starts the idea of a youth program. The layoff gives Pezo an opportunity to spend more time with at risk youth. He discovers anger is the root cause to many of the underlying issues. At that moment, he begins to cultivate the P.O.P. program.
“When I got laid off, I got blessed, says Pezo. “God put it on my heart, and from that moment on I just wrote out the outline, and [ideas] just came, and the [anger management] methods just came.
The program goes far beyond the proverbial just walk away motto. The P.O.P. programs centers around a seven method process to curve anger into creativity. The clinically proven techniques transform hostile situations with cognitive thinking, silent chants, pressure point stances, and breathing techniques. The program couches the clinical techniques into practical terminology to resonate with the youth participants.
Where the program really excels is the baseline method. Participants see firsthand how to turn the pain into creativity. After a participant calmly prevents an anger outburst, he tells them to beatbox a beat. A producer then replicates the beatbox sounds into an actual beat, which illustrates anybody can materialize a creative idea.
"So, I’m just passionate about helping. My piece is no bigger than anybody else’s piece. So we all got to put our pieces together to create that picture for the future. That’s what a puzzle is all about”, says Pezo.
Currently the P.O.P. program is at seven locations with 21 weekly sessions in the Atlanta area.