EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been corrected to accurately reflect the age of the victim.
INDIANAPOLIS — Youth advocates plead for community involvement after a 17-year-old was injured in a shooting this week. The student attends VOICES Corp, an Indy nonprofit that does outreach and offers education alternatives to youth.
The teen specifically is enrolled in the day program at VOICES.
“They earn their high school credits, they get workforce development, lots of social/emotional development, lots of mentoring, those kinds of things,” Executive Director Kia Wright said.
Fortunately, the teen is expected to be okay.
“There’s been so many that weren’t,” Wright said. “We’ve lost some in the last couple of years. We have some that are in the Marion County Jail right now facing murder charges. This thing never gets easy.”
Jacob is a student who attends VOICES as well. He said the news of a peer being shot saddens him.
He also said the organization helps him reach his potential.
“VOICES actually show you how to change and like it actually brings like the true you out of everything,” Jacob said. “It takes all the bad and turns it into positive things really.”
Jacob said he hopes more adults see the value in playing a role in the lives of young people.
“The reason I think the community should get involved in keeping us safe is because it could change the world, you know,” Jacob said.
Wright said she knows this work cannot waiver.
“Making sure they understand that this is real life,” Wright said. “There are real life consequences. People love you and they’re going to miss you if you’re in jail or dead.”
Wright said she is urging parents and mentors to stay involved in teens’ lives, especially when it comes to social media.
“Their profiles show a complete story of who their peers are, where they’re going,” Wright explained. “The activities that they’re involved in. They just need to be aware, ask questions, meet the parents of their other friends, pop up at school.”
Wright said she hopes everyone notices the young people around them.
“Talk to these kids, hug these kids,” Wright said. “Tell them that they have potential. They’re not hearing it anywhere else.”