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New youth center offers sign of restoration on Indy's east side

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Posted at 5:06 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 20:28:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A new youth center on the east side of Indianapolis broke ground Tuesday. Eastern Star Church leaders said the ROCK Children and Youth Center is a sign of restoration in the Arlington Woods neighborhood.

“As we break this ground, we also break fear, poverty, lack of education, violence, oppression and suicidal thoughts,” said 14-year-old Jahbaury Buchanan.

Continuing Eastern Star Church’s efforts to enhance housing, economic, and workforce development opportunities in the 46218 zip code that, Pastor Jeffrey Johnson said, has been neglected for too long, the soon-to-be built Rock Children and Youth Center will be a 60,000 square-foot facility open after school and on the weekends, focused on children’s educational, spiritual, emotional and psychological well-being.

“We’ve had to deal with an economic desert, we’ve had to deal with a food desert, we’ve had to deal with employment desert, quality education desert,” Johnson said.

“For young people from the whole community, Arlington Woods community, to provide them with a safe place in which to gather,” said Jeff Bennett, the city’s deputy mayor of community development.

“Especially coming off of a year like 2020, it brings so much hope to our community and brings so much happiness,” said Keith Graves, Indianapolis City-County Council member for District 13.

In the past four years, Eastern Star Church has built affordable homes, tackled vacant properties, developed a credit union and fresh market, and opened a charter school through its ROCK Initiative.

“They’ve been helping out with poverty and they’ve been helping out with other problems around here,” Buchanan said. “That’s why I wanted to fit in the prayer that while this youth center is being built, Eastern Star is still helping out with many other things too.”

Now, this youth center hopes to be instrumental in identifying and eliminating risk factors that halts any child’s ability to excel in life.

“Indication that our community, District 13 is going in the direction that we want it to go,” Graves said.

The center is slated to open sometime in 2022. The facility will be located on the north side of the church grounds with an investment of more than $9 million from church members, friends, and partners.