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Indianapolis spring break camp keeps youth off the street while learning to make better choices

The Young Men, Inc. empowerment camp is helping boys stay off the streets and learn to make potentially life-saving choices

INDIANAPOLIS — More than a dozen minors have been shot in Indianapolis already this year. Just this month, at least four teens in Indianapolis were shot and killed. 

Many teens are out of school on spring break this week, and the Young Men, Inc. spring empowerment camp is helping boys stay off the streets and learn to make potentially life-saving choices.  

On Tuesday morning in the basement of Great Commission Church of God at 3302 N. Arsenal Ave., an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department captain challenged a group of about 30 boys ages 8-18 with scenarios to practice making great choices.

"I can stay around the right people instead of going around people that tell me to do bad stuff, like not listen to the teacher and like going out and just messing with kids,” said 11-year-old Jakobi Cunningham.

Thirteen-year-old Christian Robinson admits he’s scared when he sees how many of his young Black peers lose their lives to gun violence in Indianapolis.    

“You never know, it could be me,” said Robinson. “But from one stance, it's kind of something that's been happening for a while, so after a while, you get used to it. It's just part of life."

This two-day, all-day camp is for boys who already completed the Young Men, Inc. summer camp. That includes workshops in conflict resolution, personal and career development, health and fitness, cultural awareness, self-discipline and self-respect.

Young Men, Inc. has worked to improve the lives of young men for 29 years. Boys who went through the program are now fathers with their own sons in the program.

"It's just scary being a father and being a young man myself, just because of everything around us,” said 34-year-old Alex Self, who has five sons. “We can't control our environments at all, so it's scary, but I'm very thankful for this program because it helps as a guidance and it kind of helps lower the odds in a sense."

Registration is open now for the Young Men, Inc. summer camp June 6 - Aug. 6. 

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