INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis teenager is fed up with the ongoing violence in his neighborhood and is now joining forces with local leaders.
“I see what goes on daily,” said 16-year-old Ronelle Collins. “I’ve seen many people this year die.”
Collins says growing up on the east side hasn’t always been easy.
“Gun violence, a lot of my friends have been arrested,” Collins said. “I would like to see a change. That’s why I’m making my effort.”
Collins has become a local activist by joining the Indianapolis Youth Commission, teaming up with the Race and Cultural Relationship leadership network and completing the violence prevention fellowship offered by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.
“Us teenagers are out here living it,” Collins said, “while the grownups and governors, they are not in the streets like we are.”
Indianapolis is on pace for a record-breaking number of homicides this year as gun violence continues to rise. There have been 87 more non-fatal shooting this year compared to last year at this time.
“I grew up on the east side,” said Madison Guise, vice chair of the Indianapolis Youth Commission who works with Collins to stop the violence.
“Seeing people grow up, living a rough life that’s unstable, I was sympathizing with that,” Guise said. “I care a lot about it.”
“This year, we maybe have lost five former students to gun violence,” said Brandon Randall, director of engagement for VOICES, a program Collin’ volunteers with that works with teens in the juvenile system.
“Hearing it from another teenager is very important and it’s received differently,” Randall said.
“Don’t give up; if you’re going to complete your dreams, complete your dreams,” said 16-year-old Demarcus Parks, one of many teens involved in VOICES.
“Don’t let anyone stop you,” Parks said. “If you have stuff you want to do in life, put your mind to it. You can do anything.”