Students, educators at Phalen Leadership Academy need help with their solution to youth violence

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — As gunshots rang out on Shady Oak Drive Wednesday night, killing four young people, some students at Phalen Leadership Academy ducked for cover in their own homes. Those students say the sound of gunshots has become all too common, and they believe there is a solution.

“My scholars had to run to school today. They wouldn’t stand at their bus stop, because they felt like a moving target is harder to hit than a standing target. That’s not how citizens of Indianapolis should live,” exclaimed Phalen Leadership Academy CEO Earl Phalen.

The non-profit school already has a buddy system in place when a shooting occurs. Students are paired in group chats on their phones to check in safely when a shooting happens. Last night one of their students didn’t check in, and another student went to check on her classmate. Thankfully that student was okay. At least two of students at the school heard the gunshots Wednesday night, or live at the apartment complex where the four people were killed. Listen to their experience below.

Educators believe more can be done for the north east side. They listen to students telling them they are afraid to go outside to play. Teachers claim the lack of an outlet for young people is adding to the violence.

“I really call this my home because there’s a lot of love,” says Akaiyh Minor of her school.

“Their parents, uncles, aunties, all that, cousins, they introduce [the violence] to them,” answered Darrance Jennings, “They have no guidance like we have at this school.”

The non-profit school wants to build a multipurpose, 24/7 gymnasium on their campus that’s open to the public. Administrators add that their CEO Earl Phalen is offering to pay for the upkeep, taxes, and staffing. They just need the money to get it built.

“Our school is a safe place. We got police that nobody is going to come in here,” Taevion Walker mentioned.

“We can’t control people’s minds, but we can come together as a group, as a community,” Minor says.

Administrators at Phalen tell us the lowest price they’ve seen is $3.9 million to build the gym. They are hoping to find a partner.


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