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Indiana Youth Group offers safe space for LGBTQ+ youth

IYG hosted a carnival Wednesday for ages 12 to 20 where the organization served food and hosted games and activities.

INDIANAPOLIS — An organization with more than 35 years of experience improving the lives of LGBTQ+ youth held a celebration during the first full week of Pride Month with a free event Wednesday afternoon.

Indiana Youth Group, also known as IYG, hosted a carnival for youth ages 12 to 20 years old, serving food and hosting games and activities.

The organization was founded to be a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth.

"Ultimately, everything we do is just to help reduce those suicide rates amongst LGBTQ youth and young adults," said executive director Belinda Drake.

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Some of the services IYG provides include case management, housing, clothing supplies and even a food pantry. IYG is also able to provide hot meals in the evenings.

"One of the most important programs we've been able to start since I've been here has been the new counseling program, which is called HUGS," Drake said. "It's an acronym for Help Us Grow Stronger, and that was actually made possible by our friends at the Colts Foundation."

Wednesday's carnival was made possible through a partnership with Indy Pride.

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Drake said volunteers are the backbone of the organization, especially when it comes to events like the youth carnival.

She encourages people to sign up if they are interested in helping LGBTQ+ youth in the Indianapolis area.

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