INDIANAPOLIS — The city’s Community Violence Reduction Team for the Office of Public Health and Safety is working to combat the crime with their Safe Summer program again this year.
“We do painting, we do open mic nights where kids can come and sing and rap, basketball of course, kickball,” Shonna Majors, Director of Community Violence Reduction explained.
The activities are endless for the Community Violence Reduction Team’s third annual Safe Summer.
“Bringing different activities that they are not used to seeing or participating in, giving them ways to broaden their minds and their thoughts,” Tony Lopez said.
Resource coordinators like Lopez, Justin Reed and Cameron Shepherd will be there each Friday from now through August 6, at Bethel Park, Douglass Park and Municipal Gardens from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. to engage with teenagers, give them something to do, and hopefully sneak in some mentoring along the way.
“Exposure to positive people that look like them, that are doing great things and great work in the community and have their back and want to see them succeed and stay safe and alive this summer,” Majors said.
“I was a kid growing up in Indianapolis and there was never nothing for me and my friends to do. So we would get in trouble,” Justin Reed said. “We would just go out and be out all night and doing stuff but if you have something planned and you already know, OK, let’s go to Municipal Gardens or Douglass or Bethel, we have somewhere to go and our parents know where we’re going to be.”
Each week, there will be something different. They also plan on bringing in IMPD officers to minimize the fear of talking to police, and teach youth how to talk through conflict resolution.
“What we’re doing here is allowing and creating space for kids this summer to come be themselves and at the same time explore things that make them grow along with helping them in their growth by identifying who they are and what they like and who they want to be,” Cameron Shepherd added.
Their goal is to empower our youth and be preventative in violence reduction, ahead of conflicts before they arise.
“They get to know each other. So if you have teens coming from different sides of town specifically to play basketball or whatever, now they got getting to know each other so that if they do have a conflict later they can remember each other and say hey I played ball with this guy he’s all right,” Majors explained. “Very much looking to try to learn how to start talking things through instead of resorting to violence.”
They’re hoping this year will be the largest Safe Summer participation they’ve ever had, after starting the program in 2019. Anyone can show up at their three locations and dinner will be served at each location.