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Ninjas-in-training conquering obstacles with new friends

Posted at 9:21 PM, Jul 31, 2019

BROKEN ARROW, OK (KJRH) — While bullying and making friends can be huge obstacles in kids’ lives, an "extreme breakfast club" has come together to overcome their own issues. Their parents say it's helped them reach new heights.

The kids train at BA Ninja Warrior, owned by coach and American Ninja Warrior Venn Johns. The ninjas in training come from all over, and all different backgrounds, but have been helped by a program Johns developed with help from The Parent Child Center of Tulsa.

"It’s become like a family,” said mother of three Nicki Lovins.

Lovins' daughter experienced bullying, and because of it her son Isaiah didn't want to make any friends. But now, the two have come out of their shell as they swing around the course.

“He just said I’m not going to make friends and I’m happy to be alone," Lovins said. "Until we came here - like he loved American Ninja Warrior, we watch it on TV all the time, and he’s turned our backyard into a course. And I thought well, let’s just get him in somewhere and see what happens. And he loved it.”

Venn Johns now uses the programs at his gym to lift kids up, and help bring families together.

"Honestly it gives me goosebumps," Johns said. "I would never have thought I’d be able to impact someone’s life in that kind of way.”

Johns created the gym to be able to train for American Ninja Warrior, creating obstacles based on what he'd seen in the show. But he discovered he'd started something special when he began to hear about his students' successes outside the gym.

"They’re now talking to kids and making friends with kids. And that’s when I realized this is more than just a physical thing we’re doing here," Johns said. “It’s helping them learn how to talk to their parents, and their parents are learning from their kids, so now the kids are even feeling better because they’re showing mom and dad how to do something.”

Johns wants to keep expanding the experience to more Green Country kids, beginning with the gym's anti-bullying and safety back to school event.

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