INDIANAPOLIS— Barbershop Talks sessions have been going on inside George Washington High School for the past year.
"Real life situations," said Calvin Washington, a student at George Washington High School.
"I can depend on somebody to really listen to me," said Malique Starks.
On Tuesday morning, the group welcomed City-County Council President Vop Osili.
"The kids were asking for him. It’s important that we get out and build relationships with everyone from all walks of life, inspiration, aspiration, believing they can be a Vop Osili and beyond," said Antonio Patton, the organizer.
The group talked to Osili about the ongoing gun violence among teens. This year, 21 kids under the age of 18 have died from gun violence. Almost half of them have happened in the last two months.
Many in the room knew someone who had been killed.
"I never thought I’d see my friend in a casket," said Starks.
Starks and Washington both say they think the rise started when the state of Indiana passed permit less carry last year.
"It’s really killing our population right now for us younger black kids because it’s like kids have been dying left and right. At least for these last two months like left and right," said Washington.
They say their peers turn to guns because of peer pressure, their environment and social media. They say programs like Barbershop Talks, meeting kids where they are, and having positive enforcement can change that.
"I got people in my ear. I got people who have been through the stuff that like if I wanted to go in that direction I have people that would lead my in that direction, so I just take advantage of my opportunity," said Washington.