A Climbing Toll

A new analysis of youth who were killed by firearms shows that it doesn’t make any difference where you live. According to the analysis published in the journal Pediatrics, children in rural areas are as likely to be killed by guns as young people in big cities; this finding runs counter to the popular perception that “firearm death is a big city problem” according to the lead study author, Dr. Michael Nance of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. While there were more homicides in cities, the number of suicides and accidental shootings in rural areas evened the score.

But what really jumped out at me was the number: almost 24,000 gun related deaths of young people under the age of 19 from 1999 through 2006! That is almost five times the number of heroic young men and women from our armed forces killed in combat operations in Iraq during the past seven years of that conflict.

How many doctors, teachers, scientists, plumbers, and auto mechanics have we lost prematurely to gun violence? How many mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers have been the victims of unnecessary firearms death? When will we learn that there are other ways to solve our problems and our disagreements besides with a gun?

Indianapolis is having its own violence crisis right now; 58 homicides already this year. It is up to us adults to make our communities safer for our children and youth and we can start by putting away our guns.

Rally for IndyGo Funding: Thursday May 20th

Now is your opportunity to show your support for IndyGo, the only transit option for many of the families in our community.  Lack of transportation options limits access to potential job opportunities, as well as the programs and services that are critical to positive youth development.

IndyGo is facing a $3 million shortfall in funding for 2010. If this deficit is not eliminated, IndyGo will be forced to make further service cuts, leaving many Indianapolis residents, including those with disabilities, without transportation to work and community services, and leaving Indianapolis businesses with employees who can’t get to work. The IndyGo cuts will come even as bus ridership has grown in the first quarter of this year, and city residents and businesses are still struggling to recover from the economic recession.

When: Thursday, May 20th, 4:45pm – 5:30pm. (IndyGo hearing follows rally at 5:30 pm)
Where: Indianapolis Convention Center- Capitol Street entrance
Who: Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit and all citizens interested in public transit in Marion County

The Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit is calling on Mayor Ballard, the Indianapolis Marion County City-County Council, and IndyGo management to maintain current IndyGo funding and service levels.

For more information, contact:

EIP Provider Fair Keynote Speakers

The Early Intervention and Prevention (EIP) staff at MCCOY looks forward to having Debra Medeiros from the Coordinating Center and Ann Marie Grimberg from Heartland Alliance with the FACT program in Chicago to provide the keynote address at the first annual EIP Provider Fair. The Strengthening At-Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children Initiative is an innovative approach to providing intensive services for homeless young families. The program sites provide wrap-around services by co-locating staff, creating one intake process, sharing client files, holding case conference meetings, integrating services, providing home visiting services, and developing positive relationships with clients.

The Strengthening At-Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children Initiative aims to improve the housing, health, and development of at-risk and homeless mothers 18-25 years old who have at least one child 5 years or younger. The goals of the initiative are to improve the housing, health, and development of homeless and at-risk young families.

The Initiative is a partnership between the Conrad H. Hilton Foundation, The National Center on Family Homelessness, National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Zero to Three. There is a Coordinating Center comprised of experts from each of the national partners to provide the expertise needed to inform comprehensive interventions to at-risk and homeless young families. The Coordinating Center also provides technical assistance to the local programs to promote the replication of promising strategies.

The Initiative has four program sites:

  • Strong: Strengthening Our Next Generation in Minneapolis, MN is focused on rapid rehousing with services targeted to the needs of young families. Partner agencies involved are the Reuben Lindh Family Services, St. Stephen’s Human Services, and Wayside House.
  • Strengthening Young Families in Antelope Valley, CA is focused on creating a mobile, community based system of care. Partner agencies are Valley Oasis; Mental Health America; Healthy Homes, a program of Antelope Valley Hospital, and United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
  • FACT in Chicago, IL utilizes a demonstration project to impact community services and policies. Partner agencies are Beacon Therapeutic Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Heartland Alliance, Goldie’s Place, Mercy Housing Lakefront, Inner Voice, Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers, and Voices for Illinois Children.
  • Hope & Home in Pomona, CA takes an intensive mental health approach to working with young moms and children. Partner agencies are PROTOTYPES: Centers for Innovation in Health, Mental Health, and Foothill Family Services.

To learn more about the EIP Provider Fair and to register as an exhibitor and/or attendee go to the MCCOY website at www.mccoyouth.org and click on the Provider Fair button. REGISTRATION ENDS June 4th.

To learn more about the Strengthening At-Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children Initiative go to www.familyhomelessness.org.

Everyday Champion: Carlos Trincado

This story is a part of our Everyday Champions series. Helping youth succeed takes commitment and action from our whole community. Everyday Champions are people who are committed and who act in small and big ways to support youth in central Indiana. Do you know someone who you think would make a great Champion for Youth? Click here to get started.

As an IMPD Officer, Carlos Trincado began to see a need in the community. Schools needed additional help dealing with behavioral and low-school performance issues. And students needed extra help with academics and finding outlets to reduce stress. So Officer Trincado developed B.R.I.D.G.E. (Behavior, Responsibility, Integrity, Discipline, Guidance, Education). The program is one of the only support and prevention approaches of its kind in the metropolitan Indianapolis area.

During each nine-week session, students meet three times a week for academic tutoring, physical activity and speaker presentations for students. Additionally, there’s a weekly parents group and two-hour spiritual growth session for the whole family, which includes a class for parents in parental skills. With this, B.R.I.D.G.E. participants can develop lifelong wellness habits.

The program operates at NO COST to families. Teachers and staff members are volunteers.

What is your profession or vocation?

Police Officer

How are you an Everyday Champion for Youth?
I worked very close with public schools and teen students, assisting the school system and parents with their children. As the Latino affairs officer for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, I try to be a role model for young students; I focus a good portion of my time with the Latino youth at-risk.

I developed a teen crime prevention program over a year ago. I meet with the students three times per week and I meet with their parents one day per week as well. We work with the students to instill a sense of pride and accomplishment by teaching them a series of good values. Through every contact with the children in the schools or the street, I yearn to be a positive experience for the youth.

What impact do you hope to make on youth?

The impact I hope to have on the children, regardless of what the choices in their lives may be, is to remember to be responsible, positive, trustworthy and serious about it and honest with others and with themselves. I wish that some of them will be inspired to follow my steps in what I do in my professional life.

What’s the one thing that you wish an adult had told you when you were a young person?

Relationships in life are the most important things and should be the focus. Nothing else will fulfill a human being as much as the relationships we develop with other people. Accomplishment in life is measure by the true relationships you can build—family, friends and neighbors. A relationship is what makes you a reach person, not the money you make.

What do you want to do next to support youth?

I would like to expand B.R.I.D.G.E. teen crime prevention program throughout all Marion county schools. This is a children support project and parent-oriented program. I know it can benefit students, parents, school systems and the neighborhoods were we live. Teens and their parents can start building relationships with role models for the youth, and the community can be involved in meaningful relationships with children.

The Libraries Need YOU Tonight and on the 12th!

Keeping libraries open should be a priority IndyStar.com The Indianapolis Star

MCCOY knows libraries are a vital element of a healthy community. They provide computer and Internet access to folks who use those resources for employment searches and educating themselves. The library is a neutral, safe place for children and a gathering place for neighbors. We could go on an on about the public benefits of the libraries, their role in early intervention and prevention strategies for children, families and the common good.

While city officials mull over a $12.5 million Super Bowl makeover for Georgia Street the possible takeover of the $15 million yearly operating cost of Conseco Fieldhouse, six libraries in the neediest neighborhoods face closing.

Organized groups of Indianapolis citizens are determined to save six public libraries from closing. Stop Look Listen has created a website, Facebook and Twitter groups to rally citizens in support of postponing the decision on library closings (a vote currently slated for June 2010). Community organizers have also set up Facebook groups like Save the Spades Park Library and Save the Glendale Branch to attract and communicate with supporters.

If you agree that community gathering places, education and bridging the digital divide should be priorities in Indianapolis, ask our city leaders to postpone the vote on library closings and take time to find a creative solution to the library’s estimated $3 million annual deficit (a deficit that could be avoided if every Indianapolis citizen donated as little as $3.00; a deficit created by proposed caps on property taxes that supply 80% of the library’s budget).

Write letters to the Library Board of Trustees, the Library CEO, your City-County Councillors and the Mayor. Come out and meet your neighbors for the uplifting cause of saving one of our community’s most important, positive assets.

Public hearings are scheduled for Monday May 10th and Wednesday May 12th at 6:30 p.m. at the Library Services Center, 2450 N. Meridian Street, Room 226. Citizen groups will rally in the parking lot at 5:30. Attend with friends and neighbors to voice your support.

SAMPLE LETTER for your use in emails, letters or phone calls to public officials:


Dear (INSERT NAME HERE):

I am alarmed at the possible closure of six library branches in Indianapolis. The branches slated for potential closing are in neighborhoods that deserve and truly need their libraries and all the services the library has to offer.

Libraries serve a vital social service by helping bridge the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” especially when it comes to literacy and computer skills training. Libraries offer services and products that level the intellectual playing field. The existence of libraries ensures that knowledge and technology are available to everyone, not just to those who can afford their own. This is more than charity work; this helps raise the education levels of society as a whole. Studies have shown that the presence of libraries is good for towns and cities; people and business owners find more value in areas that have libraries nearby. And they have rated libraries higher than other public services in professionally conducted polls.

As a taxpaying citizen of Marion County, our community’s libraries are a top priority. Please take the time to provide what support you can in helping us to keep our libraries open. Delay the final decision on closing the libraries. Renegotiate one-year leases of the libraries in jeopardy to provide additional time to asses other ways to shrink the deficit or raise capital, without shutting down any branches. By doing this, the library board (along with other city leaders and community members) will allow itself the time necessary to evaluate all current options—and brainstorm new methods—for stemming the library’s deficit.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

YOUR NAME

YOUR ADDRESS

YOUR PHONE or EMAIL

****************************************************************

Direct your letters, phone calls and emails to the following power players:

Find your City-County Council district and contact your Councillor

via email, phone call or letter:

The Honorable or Councillor (Name)
241 City-County Building, 200 E.Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 317- 327-4242

Thomas S. Shevlot, President, IMCPL Board of Trustees (& other board members)

7326 Elm Ridge Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46236
Phone Number: 317-823-9887
[email protected]

Submit a letter to the editor of the Indianapolis Star or mail it to:

Letters to the Editor

The Indianapolis Star

P.O. Box 145

Indianapolis, IN 46206-0145

or fax it to: 1-317-444-6800.

Please include your name, address and phone number.

Talking Isn’t Enough

Quite often in the non profit world representatives of different agencies serving youth and families are brought together to discuss some of the biggest problems their clients face. Groups are known to meet for hours debating the best way to address issues such as hunger, homelessness, the drop-out crisis and crime prevention. I too have been apart of countless conversations on these topics. I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of sitting across from highly respected congress men and women, mayors, board presidents, corporate CEO’s and the like. And while the attendee lists are impressive and my networks are growing; I’m disheartened by the stagnant nature of these meetings. I can’t help but feel like our meetings are in vain and we’ve begun to “meet about what we are going to meet about in the next meeting”. In other words, the nobility of our efforts to meet and discuss important issues is lost when we fail to take action and implement real change. While the beginning of all action is the communication of ideas; meeting about the deplorable statistics on violence and crime in our communities does not keep our children safe. Talking about the need for more food banks does not put food on tables. And yes, there are several organizations that are implementing and carrying out services; helping thousands of people each year. However, I can’t help but to wonder if more people could be served if we, especially those with financial and political power, would take a more action oriented approach and initiate dialog with a clear plan to take action. What would happen if those invited to discuss these important topics were also asked to come with tangible and realistic plans for how they can implement change? What if the true discussions weren’t about the statistics and the severity of the problem; but about the feasibility of executing plans being presented? I think by now we know what the problems are. I don’t think we need to be convinced that there is a drop-out crisis and thousands of children aren’t receiving the best opportunities for positive development due to issues such as poverty and crime. It is time we focus more energy on realistic inputs to addressing the issues as opposed to defining the issues.