When Cynthia Johnson of Bowling Green became a therapist three years ago, she knew she wanted to help teens.
"One of the things I realized is that teens are going through a hard time," Johnson said. "I just felt like people weren't taking notice and it kind of bothered me."
Last fall, she started Real Talk 2, a group for teens to talk about what's going on in their lives, such as the stresses they face and how they deal with them.
"When they realize others share their same feelings, they're able to be more open," Johnson said, and share things they might not share with adults.
She doesn't want Real Talk 2 to be just for kids who have been in trouble, but for anyone who is facing difficult situations and choices.
"Anybody can be at risk for doing something out of character," Johnson said. "I could be at risk."
Growing up, Johnson found herself in bad situations, and was stigmatized as a troublemaking kid.
"I look at these kids and see myself," she said. "If I can turn it around, then anyone can."
Johnson said she wants kids in the group to understand that everyone faces difficult choices in life, but they can turn an adverse situation into a good thing.
"They can write the end to their chapter," she said. "They don't have to be what statistics say. They have the power within them to make a difference."
The group meets on Saturday afternoons at the ALIVE Center. Conference rooms there are available for free.
Right now, Johnson has only a few girls in the group, but she hopes to recruit more and include boys as well. She's trying to get the group's name out in schools and the community so more kids will be interested.
Real Talk 2 has met a handful of times so far, and the girls talk about conflicts they have and choices they make each week. They also take part in activities that help them discover more about themselves and gain self-confidence. Johnson also has community service projects planned for the group.
Jennifer Perry, 17, a student at Greenwood High School, said she decided to join Real Talk 2 after Johnson invited her because she thought it would help her solve personal problems.
"I thought it would be beneficial to be around people your age and learn from them," she said.
Erica Adler, 16, who goes to South Warren High School, said she and other members of the group talk about things happening in their lives and what they can do to help others in the community.
"The impact of Real Talk is changing our lives and changing others," she said.
She said it's shown her how to help herself and others .
"It helps me bring down my anger towards things and realize what other people are going through," she said.