INDIANAPOLIS — Tensions are high right now regarding racial inequality plus the stress of COVID-19. Community organizations want families to know they are sticking to their mission of improving lives.
In such uncertain times, added stressors for many of us, kids and teenagers might be lacking a support system or direction in life right now. As the number of homicides and violence continues to rise in Indianapolis, it makes groups like City Life that much more important.
"People did lose jobs. The mothers, fathers had to move from houses they've been in for years," Antonio Patton, City Life far east side director, said. "What does it look like? That's catastrophic. That's hurting. Who will pour into them? Who will speak into their life?"
LEARN MORE | City Life from Central Indiana Youth for Christ
Patton said throughout the past few months, their goal has remained the same — meet kids and families where they are and lend an ear for someone to listen.
"The one thing you don't want to do is try to suppress and bottle up something that needs to get out," Patton said. "Express your heart. Let them see your tears. Let them know that as an African-American man or African-American young girl, I feel different when lights come on behind me. And it's not fair. It's unreal."
The challenge before and perhaps even more so now is giving kids hope, showing them a better way to move through life and helping them get there.
"There are housing needs, there are job needs, there is educational needs, there is just navigating brokenness, trauma and emotion that they have had to do it before and continue to deal with now," Yasmin Cline, Central Indiana Youth for Christ parent life director, said.
"These kids are suppressed and they're angry and upset and carrying these rifles that you're like, 'How did you even get your hands on that? Where did you pick it up from?'" Patton said. "And it's sad to say that we have to invade their world and say, 'Hey, I'm willing to take that from you and to get rid of it.' So in order to take something from someone you have to have something to replace it with."
They teach their families and students to not let circumstances define you. The key to that is reconciliation.
"Within their own hearts, within their family dynamics, within our community, within their legacy that they want to have for their children," Cline said.
"I love the fact that now I believe it's affecting the entire humanity race. Now everybody is coming out of their world and merging together," Patton said. "And they're saying, 'How can we help?' First thing, you have to listen and learn what it is to be this child and learn what it is to be this child."