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Church lock-in helps keep teens from getting locked up

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The stormy weather might have ruined plans for some, but hundreds of teenagers didn’t lose out on a chance to have fun while also staying out of trouble.

Light of the World Christian Church hosted its fourth overnight lock-in. It started around 7:00 pm Friday and lasted until 8:00am.

And it’s not just keeping teenagers out of the rain; it’s helping to keep them out of trouble.

On a Friday night, church might be the last place you’d expect to see teens lining up.

But at Light of the World Christian Church, there isn’t a place the pack of youth standing outside would rather be.

I know everybody that I know is going to be here,” said teen Isaiah O’Neal. “And everybody that knows me knows I’m going to be here.”

“Our youth have done a great job to reach to other teens in the community and all are welcome,” said Reverend Dr. David Hampton. “As many as we can fit at least.”

The church can hold more than a thousand people, but organizers estimated a little more than 600 youth ages 12-19 years old attended.

Once inside the lock-in, students signed in and made their way into the gym for a night that included dance competitions, basketball tournaments, and guest speakers including IMPD Police Chief Rick Hite.

“It’s an opportunity for them to fellowship in a safe way in an environment where their parents can be, feel comfortable with their kids and the activities here are designed to enrich them and to encourage them,” said Rev. Hampton.

IMPD officers were also on hand supervising the event. Attendees also had to have their bags searched while a guard waved a metal detecting wand across their bodies.

“We have all these chaperones and like security, so (parents) know that their child is not going to harmed or be out doing something they shouldn’t be,” added O’Neal.

But organizers said the teens aren’t at the lock-in because they’re trouble makers. They said event is to make sure trouble doesn’t find them.

“As a matter of fact, I can vouch that most of these teens here are excellent students,” said Rev. Hampton.

“Every time you turn on the news there’s somebody being shot or something of that sort happening,” said teen Jada Carey. “But when you turn on the news tomorrow or tonight you’ll always hear about the lock in that’s going on.”

That’s why she and parents alike hope events like this one have people up for a “Friday night service” more often.

“Youth need to know that adults care and this is the perfect venue,” said parent Traci Adams-Wilson. “You look around you’ll see there are lot of older people here that have a lot of wisdom that will listen to these children and they just want to be heard, they want a place where they can be heard and have a good, safe, fun time.”

The event was specifically scheduled to fall on the weekend of the Indiana Black Expo. That way parents could enjoy the night downtown while their kids could be at the lock-in.

The event made Reverend Charles Harrison especially happy. He said the Ten Point Coalition planned to patrol downtown for IBE and knowing hundreds of teenagers will be at the lock-in gives them some relief.

“It does keep them off the street, keeps some of them out of trouble. So we want to do more of this in the future, you know trying to provide these kind of safe havens for our youth in particular,” he said.

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