INDIANAPOLIS — The number of teens killed in homicides has only grown the last several years. It’s a statistic a group of young people and their mentors refuse to accept.

In 2022, 19 young people were killed in Indy; the most in any year since at least 2017.

“We have to really find out, what is it,” said Brandon Randall, founder of Tru Colors Indy and a youth advocate. “Is it emotional intelligence? Is it retaliation? Is it anger management? Is it lack of access to education, food, housing and employment?”

Randall believes the solutions to these tough topics lie within the people impacted: teens. That is why his organization and several others invite elected leaders and adult stakeholders to the annual Tru Dialogue forum.

Randall describes Tru Dialogue Pt. 7 as “a youth-led and youth-driven platform, geared to offer an opportunity for young people to demonstrate their power….Through their voice! The premise is that for true dialogue to exist, there needs to be greater understanding from the perspective of those most marginalized, in hopes that cross-generational synergy can produce answers to the significant challenges we face as a city, a state, and a country.”

“It can make you feel safe up there and make you feel like people are really listening to you,” Desmond Turner, a panelist for the upcoming event, said.

Turner seeks out leadership opportunities at his school and within the community. This youth-led opportunity is for adults to gain an understanding of issues affecting the teens around them.

“What do teens go through and what they should do to get out the trauma and have them open up and have kids’ voices be heard,” Turner explained.

Tru Dialogue is happening at the Fay Biccard Glick Neighborhood Center on Feb. 11 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the gymnasium. Randall said each year he’s noticed a difference in the interest of groups to partner with youth organizations.

“We’re seeing a lot more organizations creating advisory boards or inviting young people to legislative actions,” Randall said. “While I don’t attribute that purely to Tru Dialogue, we have seen that increase and other interest in people connecting with us to kind of use that as a model in how they move forward.”

In the past teens have discussed gun violence and mental health issues the most during Tru Dialogue.

“This generation of young people, they’ve had to adapt quickly because of technology, but they also have things at their immediate disposal that can be harmful, that can be traumatic,” Randall explained. “That can increase desensitization. So we really have to play a part in supporting them and collaborating with them, and not make it feel like they have to figure this out themselves.”

Randall and his partner organizations, Bloom Project Inc., DONT SLEEP, and Fay Biccard Glick Neighborhood Center hope at least 250 adults sign up for the free discussion. For more information on the event, contact Brandon Randall at trucolorsindy@gmail.com.