INDIANAPOLIS — It takes a village — that was the message of the Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety's first empowerment conference.
Over 30 organizations attended the event to let parents know what resources are available to their kids and teens this summer as the city focuses on its safe summer initiative.
"We understand that the families in the communities we are engaged with are lacking resources,” said Cameron Shepherd the program manager of the organization's Safety Violence Reduction Team.
“So, a big part of our job is to say we understand that and this is how we are going to alleviate that we will bring the resources to you," Shepherd said.
During the first-ever Empowerment Conference, that's what OPHS did — engaged dozens of grassroots organizations and brought them to one place.
The goal was to provide families with what resources are available in the city for their teens. But some who attended were surprised there weren't more people there.
"This place should be packed and running over with people,” said Melinda Day, who is raising her granddaughter. “If you are truly concerned about our community, our state, our country, our whole nation as a whole, we should be here and that's what it is going to take: everybody."
Day said she feels these types of events are important, but she hopes that conversations will turn into solutions and action.
"I think it's a start but it's truly not the end but it's the beginning," said Day. "Those who don't plan to fail. So, I see this is a plan let's follow it through and keep it going."
This is why the Office of Public Health and Safety is reassuring the community that this is just the start of its safe summer initiative.
"We hope that they were impacted in a positive way and that they know moving forward that this is not just a one-stop this is not just a band-aid,” said Shepherd. “We hope that this is continued education and we hope that this is a continued engagement. "
Engagement and partnerships are what the organizations present at the event hope to do moving forward so they too can become a part of the village dedicated to curbing violence in the city.
"We have to learn the power of connection and the actual power of working together,” said Ayanna Jones, the founder and CEO of Breaking Cycles Inc. “If we could all come together and be consistent with the same goal in mind, yes. But as long as we have ten thousand people doing the same work but separate, we are never going to change anything."
The Office of Public Health and Safety says its engagement with the community will continue every Friday night during the summer.
Parents will be able to take their teens to free events starting June 11 at three different locations: Riverside Park, Garfield Park and Washington Park.
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