Teens find healthy coping strategies through arts

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- It is hard to work through our most difficult days, especially if we've endured violent crime or death.

For children dealing with trauma, it's harder still.

The city's Office of Public Health and Safety researched the impact arts programming has on people, and they incorporated these types of activities into their Safe Summer Initiative. On Friday, teens enjoyed an open mic night at Frederick Douglass Park.

"When you give people and children a space that's safe, that is conducive to expression, they will take advantage of it," said Community Violence Reduction Director Shonna Majors.

Jailynne Dotson bravely sang in front of her peers during the gathering. Dotson's been through some tough days in her life. She said music has always helped her cope.

"It's just been extremely stressful," Dotson said. "But I know that God wouldn't put me in a situation that I can't handle."

Her friend Cheyenne Thomas danced alongside her on Friday. She said music keeps her grounded.

"It always brings me to a good place when I'm in a bad place," Thomas said.

Thomas is also learning American Sign Language to help her communicate with people she feels connected to.

"A lot of the deaf people I came across, they've always talked about how isolating it is," Thomas said. "I can kind of see where they're coming from cause everyone has those moments where they feel alone."

If you would like to read the research OPHS used for this programming during their initiative, visit www.ojjdp.gov.

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