INDIANAPOLIS – In the basement of a northeast side church 100 children gobbled down a sandwich and juice and chips in a lunch they might not have had if they stayed home. Food is just one of the attractions of Rev. Malachi Walker’s 2014 Male Summer Empowerment Camp held by Young Men Incorporated at Great Commission of God Church.
“They need some strong guidance and powerful positive direction,” said Walker. “Young Men Incorporated does exactly that. We take them under our wings and lead them in the right direction. Teach them how to make good decisions and choices in life.
“At lot of these young men are from single parent homes where mothers raise them or a grandmother and the reason why they’re here is a mother feels they need a positive male role model in their lives.”
Walker and his teenage counselors teach decision-making and anger management and pride and resistance to peer pressure.
On the first day of camp the kids took a road trip to the 2700 block of South Dearborn Avenue where last week a Metro police officer fatally wounded man who tried to kill him after murdering two women in a house.
“All of you young men are successful!” Walker shouted through a bullhorn at the house where the shooting occurred as his kids stood in two straight lines in front of him. “You are somebody!”
Garfield Ford, 19, took Walker’s words to heart years ago as a camper and now preaches them as a counselor.
“Really, if I didn’t have Young Men Incorporated I would probably be in jail somewhere because the way your mindset is, the young man is just go out and run the streets and be with your friends and do negative stuff but this camp right here teaches you lots of positive stuff.”
Walker told Fox 59 News he has enough space for 100 youngsters in his program, but never turns down a plea from a mother or grandmother looking for a place to keep here young man safe from the streets for the summer.
Young Men Incorporated recently received $8000 in crime prevention grants from the city to fund its summer programs. The Central Indiana Community Foundation, which manages those grants, announced $159,000 in funding was awarded to 16 not-for-profit agencies for summer programs.
Some of the grant money Walker received goes to pay the $110 weekly salaries of eight counselors like Ford.
“It’s not even really about the money to me,” said Ford. “It’s all about helping these kids, to get them off the streets and making them do something because they need some kind of positive something out here.”
Saturday morning the Department of Public Safety will hold a 5K run in downtown Indianapolis to raise money for summer jobs programs for teens.
So far DPS and its partners have committed $21,000 to the program.