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'Safe Summer' returns to Indy for third year

Kids play basketball with mentors at Safe Summer program
Posted at 10:48 PM, Jun 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-11 22:48:51-04

INDIANAPOLIS — In Indianapolis, a safe summer sounds like basketballs and sneakers on a gym floor.

The city's Safe Summer program kicked off on Friday night at parks across the city. Peacemakers will provide activities and safe spaces for teens all summer in an effort to reduce gun violence.

"The fact that young men and women are still dying, it hurts," peacemaker Devanta Scruggs said. "There's still work to be done, but tonight is a clear indication of hope for our future and that everything's going to be alright."

This is the city's third year hosting the Safe Summer program, and this year it's expanded to Saturdays as well.

Friday was 13-year-old Joseph Hogan's first time there. Hogan was referred to the program from his mentorship program, New BOY.

He thinks the event sends a message.

"(It sends the message) That there's still people who can save us. That we still have a chance of becoming a better version of ourselves," Hogan said.

Peacemakers and other community mentors play games with the kids and get to know them. The first night, it's basketball, but boxing, photography, and other activities are coming up later in the season.

The activities are planned for evenings, some as late as 11 p.m. Hogan's mother Aleta McCormick says it's a perfect time.

"It's the summertime, they're out of school, they're all outside being mischievous," McCormick said.

This program is one piece of a comprehensive strategy the Hogsett administration is implementing across the city in an effort to address the root causes of gun violence. Social problems aren't created overnight, and city leaders say it will take time to build trust, but they're in it for the long haul.

"It's going to continue to build, continue to grow, continue to gain traction," Scruggs said.

"I think programs like this are the key. They just have to keep at it," McCormick said.

The homicide rate is still high, but Hogan has hope that things will turn around.

"Some of my friends that were headed down the wrong track, now some of them are done with that life. They're trying to be different," Hogan said.

Click here for a full schedule of Safe Summer events.


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