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Indianapolis kicks off the #IChoosePeace Campaign aimed to reduce gun violence over the summer

Posted at 11:11 PM, May 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-31 23:11:31-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Lives have been cut too short by gun violence in Indianapolis.

“We have several seats that are reserved with names on them. Those seats stand for individuals who have died this year," Mary Alexander, Director of the Gun Violence Reduction Strategy for Indy Public Safety Foundation, said. “I just want to give you an idea of how many people we are missing just in this auditorium who will never be able to fill those seats again.”

The city partnered with Indy Peace Fellowship to launch the #IChoosePeace Campaign that kicks off June 1 in honor of gun violence awareness month.

“We see a rise in youth violence during the summertime,” Tony Lopez, Deputy Director of Violence Reduction, said.

But this summer, idle time will be met with opportunities through a new initiative with Summer in the City.

"We're going to have programming each day of the week for three to four hours that youth can sign up for," Lopez said.

Monday is fitness training.

“They're going to learn physical fitness and health. They're going to do boxing. A little bit of HIT cardio and things like that," Lopez said.

Tuesday is entrepreneurship and mental health.

"Individuals are going to learn the art and skill of barbering, entrepreneurship and learning about the benefits of therapy and mental health treatment," Lopez said.

Wednesday is soul food cooking.

"Individuals get to learn how to cook food with the resources they may have within their neighborhoods and areas," Lopez said.

Thursday is be-bop to hip hop.

"We're learning about arts and culture from 1965 to 1975," Lopez said.

And Friday is play for peace.

"We're going to have our e-gaming sports going on up at Butler University," Lopez said.

Summer in the City lasts for seven weeks, from June 5 to July 21. Once participants complete the seven weeks, they will get an incentive at the end.

Lopez says the incentive is a financial literacy class that will teach participants more about money management, banking and savings.

“Even though we don’t know for sure if what we’re doing will work, we are going to keep doing it. If we’re not, then we’re just sitting around and not getting anything done,” Lopez said.

Another part of the Indy Peace Fellowship is the peacemaker program.

More than 40 people have been working to disrupt violence across the city. Peacemaker Della Brown says they show up at every shooting scene to prevent retaliation and provide families with resources.

“The outreach workers locate and engage those who are at high risk of being victims or perpetrators to gun violence,” Brown said.

Brown says they target 18 to 35-year-olds. She encourages the community to hold the peacemakers accountable and let them know where they're needed.

For more information on #IChoosePeace, click here.