INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The city government is launching its third annual Safe Summer program on Friday, aimed at engaging teenagers in safe, productive activities while school is out.
The program began with 900 participants from age 13-18 in 2019, according to city officials. It still ran during the pandemic with 400 teens and is returning for a third year.
Events will happen from 7-10 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 3 at Bethel Park, Frederick Douglass Park and Municipal Gardens. Community partners include Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Activities include a basketball tournament, the Trap and Paint painting course set to trap or hip-hop music, a talent show from Voice Corp, gym events from the Boys & Girls Club, career courses, and a “Know Your Rights” class.
It also hosts a program called Guns Down Gloves Up where teens learn boxing to help them release energy or resolve conflict safely. That event is right in line with Safe Summer’s mission, according to Shonna Majors, Indianapolis Community Violence Reduction director.
“We have a high rate of violence in the city and we want to make sure the kids out of school actually have a place to enjoy themselves and not worry about gun violence,” Majors said. “And as they continue to grow, they may run into a conflict and say, ‘Hey, I remember you from Safe Summer and this guy is cool.’”
The events are free and, according to Majors, are “show up” not “sign up” activities.
Safe Summer leaders are also still looking for volunteers to help manage events. Email OPHS@indy.gov to learn more.