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Junior Community Builders initiative hopes to address youths’ struggles

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Community is at the center of a new initiative at the Martin Luther King Community Center.

A group of young people will lead the charge.

Monday is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and organizers of the initiative said Junior Community Builders’ work is just one way of trying to reach King’s dream by building on what generations have done.

Karayjus Perry and Anthony McCloud are Junior Community Builders members at the center at West 40th and Illinois streets. The pair is reminded daily of just how important their work is.

“We understand each other’s problem struggles and we’ve been through it together,” Perry said.

“It’s an excitement but it’s also my duty,” McCloud said.

The Butler Tarkington community is one focus areas where the group is reaching out to fellow youths with a goal of creating programming and opportunities they need. A goal is to shift a negative narrative about youths who call the community home. Sometimes it’s a message best-delivered by someone with shared experiences.

“I know everybody in the neighborhood. It’s easy to go out and recruit people, but how do we get people to get connected without any incentive besides just opportunities?” Perry said.

Building on the community work, the pair will be part of new nonviolence training at the center; it’s a philosophy King lived by, but one that all people haven’t quite grasped yet.

“People are losing a lot, and I can’t relate to it, but, at the same time, we just have to keep it pushing,” McCloud said.

The team said they hope, as they get further along in the process, they can meet with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to help build relationships with officers.