INDIANAPOLIS — A recent recipient of the Community Violence Reduction Grants is using the money to help Indianapolis youth who are at an increased risk of engaging in violence.
On Tuesday, Mayor Joe Hogsett visited Reach for Youth to highlight the work they are doing in the community.
“Reach for Youth has a proven track record of success, particularly among youth ages 11 to 19,” said Mayor Hogsett, “and being transformative for those who are struggling with mental-health-related trauma and issues.”
Reach for Youth is a youth service bureau that helps kids change their circumstances and find a better way. They provide services such as counseling, an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice penalties and a new program that focuses on academic engagement.
“We think every child deserves the opportunity to receive high-quality treatment,” said Aaron McBride, Reach for Youth’s chief operating officer.
McBride said this does not just take a look at the youth who go through the program. They incorporate parents and guardians as a part of the process.
“It takes a village,” said McBride, “and being able to give parent support is vital to the success of our young men and women.”
Many of the programs that Reach for Youth offer focus on crime prevention, trying to stem issues before young men and women put themselves in harm’s way or through a potential path with the juvenile justice system.
“We are trying to develop skills and make sure young men and women have the right coping ability to manage the stress that’s in their life,” McBride said. “If they run into a conflict, they know moving forward how to safely and effectively either get away from that or just address it in a healthy way.”
One of the things that police repeat is that people need to find ways to resolve conflict without turning to violence. McBride said the hardest part is getting to the point of actually having that conversation.
“I think it’s all of us who fall victim to not understanding these coping strategies because there’s such a big stigma on mental health,” McBride said.
To help with the organization’s work, the Office of Public Health and Safety awarded Reach for Youth $70,000 to work with young people who are at an increased risk of engaging in violence, entering the justice system, or who are currently involved in the justice system.
McBride said with the extra funding they will be able to increase mental health services along with reinvesting into their REACH program. This program takes a prevention focus for youth who may be struggling in school even out of school that trying to re-engage them, re-motivate them and understand what they want to do in their next path.
“Maybe we need to work through trauma first, but then we can still work on those developmental skills and get young men and women their parents connected to potential career pathways,” said McBride.
With the additional $140,000 Indianapolis got to go specifically towards organizations providing targeted services addressing mental health challenges that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic and contributed to recent increases in violence, Mayor Hogsett said he hopes to let other organizations also scale up their efforts.
“We can scale it up in ways that will truly be transformative in diminishing, minimizing, the challenges that so many of our young people face in successful completion of their educational program—having opportunities to obtain meaningful jobs if they choose not to go forward beyond high school—but also helping them with conflict resolution skills,” said Mayor Hogsett.
For more information about the program, including how to get involved. Visit their website at reachforyouth.org.