INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, dozens of Indianapolis teenagers used their time off from school to take a stand against violence.
An event, organized by students, was held at Warren Central High School Monday. City leaders, ranging from the mayor to the chief trial deputy from the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, were among those in attendance.
While the students in the auditorium came from different schools, many shared in the pain of having lost someone to gun violence.
"When it hits home, it’s like, 'okay I can’t just sit here and let people that I know die,' especially if I can do something about it," said Warren Central sophomore Nia Harden.
Harden said her friend and classmate Eugene Dobbins was shot and killed last fall.
"That really inspired me that the killing of youth is really serious," Harden said. "It starts with the youth."
So, she's involved in We Live Indy, the student-led group that organized the MLK Day event.
"You have to take a stand for your community, your city," said Brandon Warren, who founded We Live Indy. "We all have our hands in this."
Warren started the group after the death of his friend and teammate Dijon Anderson last year.
"You have the same power as anybody else," Warren said about young people getting involved in ways to prevent violence. "You have your voice, you have to use it."
Students spent the week planning the event and getting the word out. Leaders turned out to not just speak to the teens, but also to listen.
"If it’s a youth problem, the youth have got to do something to fix it," said Alyssa Klingstein, senior at Warren Central who is involved in We Live Indy.
Mayor Joe Hogsett addressed the kids while on stage and said he needs them to help him prevent more deaths.
"I'm asking you to use your influence, use your leadership, to talk to your peers and your friends," Hogsett said.
The effort showed that these kids are finding a way to turn their grief into action.
"It ignites a fire in us that we want to fight the same fight they’re fighting because we know it takes a village," Warren said.
"It's really heartwarming to see everyone come together for one single cause," Klingstein said.
To learn more about We Live Indy, click here.