Program focuses on vocational skills for at-risk kids

Help is coming for at-risk children in Indianapolis as the "Him by Her" Foundation announced an innovative skills development center that will be located in central Indiana.

IMPD Homicide Detective Harry Dunn, president of the Him by Her Foundation, wants to create an after-school program for the city's at-risk youth and their parents.

"I've had homicide investigations on the south side of town.  I've had homicide investigations on the far north side of town and I've had it here in the middle of the city," explained IMPD Detective Harry Dunn.

At each of those scenes, Dunn says he often hears the same story.

"Individuals within my investigations are telling me, I don't have a job.  If I had a job, it would be different.  If I was doing what you were doing, it would be different and that effects me," said Dunn.

It's affected him so much that in the past three years, Dunn created a foundation with the hopes of starting some kind of after school program to teach life skills to the city's youth.

"I've seen the effects of what not having a job or not having the leadership that young adults need.  I've seen the cause and effects of that type of behavior and I'm fighting back," said Dunn. "They're asking for this help all throughout the city of Indianapolis."

Inside the empty rooms and hallways of a former school at 4101 E. 30th St., Dunn wants to create a center that teaches kids how to create their own businesses or learn vocational skills that will help them get jobs later. The center would also provide a similar experience for their parents.

The program's modeled on an already successful curriculum used across the country to teach kids real-world learning. In the school's gymnasium, will be a mini city where students can role play the game of life. Right down the hall will be classrooms with vocational instruction for parents.

"Cosmetology.  Barbering. HVAC Certified.  Plumbing.  Electricians and we'll be teaching those classes in classrooms like this," said Dunn, gesturing to the empty rooms.

Dunn hopes when kids and their parents leave the program, they have choices, they may not have otherwise had.

"It's jobs.  It's empowerment.  It's giving a person a vision of what they can become in life," said Dunn.

Dunn plans to offer the program as an option for kids on probation as a way to show them there are other choices in life.

"It's teaching individuals and keeeping individuals inspired to become something they never thought the could become before. We believe in empowering individuals with jobs and education is a definitely long-term fix," said Dunn.

A vision, said Dunn, that sees beyond the crime scene tape going up in neighborhoods across the city, a vision of something better.

The program still needs $2 million to make it happen. Dunn says the foundation will be applying for grants but he's also reaching out to this city's professional sports teams, including the Colts and Pacers, along with some of their players. He's asking them to make a different kind of investment in this city's youth.