INDIANAPOLIS — A former school teacher is working to reduce violence in Indianapolis by opening a performing arts and music center for youth.
It's called iDream Center for the Arts and it will be located near E. 22nd Street and Dr. Andrew J. Brown Avenue on Indy's near north side.
Music has always been a part of Mark Peay’s life. He has worked as a performer, musical director and school teacher, but now he is hoping to use his experiences to fill what he called “a void in the community.”
“When I was growing up I remember having the community center or the church that you could go to, or a recreation center where you could have a safe haven and we lost that. We lost that along the way,” Peay said.
So, he decided to open the iDream Center in the Hillside neighborhood. It will be a place for youth to learn and explore the arts.
“You never know what these kids have in them until we give them an opportunity to get it out,” Peay said.
He said he’s already seen kids find talent they didn’t know they had. One of them is 11-year-old Leslie Raysor Love.
"Sometimes when I'm just sad or some thing my music helps me be happy again,” Raysor Love said.
She explained how getting involved in the arts community has changed her life.
“I used to get bullied because I was different and had different hair, different qualities, and I would always go home and cry in my pillow because I didn't fit in and it made me sad… but then when I started getting involved in the dance community, in the arts community, I started feeling myself again," Raysor Love said. "I started feeling like I can share my things without being laughed at or criticized because I'm different."
That's what Peay is hopes to create for others as well.
“We realize that crime just doesn't happen. It happens because someone didn't get an opportunity to really share or deal or address what they're feeling,” Peay added.
He hopes the center provides a space for that.
“Put the guns down and pick the pen up. Basically, that means with all the stuff that's going on with gun violence and what not, if we can convince people to pick up a pen and write the lyrics, write out how you feel… If we can convince them pick up a guitar and just learn something that can help you just express how you feel so that it doesn't build up, and then mental health becomes another layer that we deal with and then the crime after that,” Peay said.
He said he is looking forward to helping more youth find and develop their talents.
A tentative opening is scheduled for June 26. For more information about the center visit their website here.