Youth Face Similar Problems Everywhere

As a recent Philly transplant I’ve noticed a few differences. The people are nicer, the days are longer, and we refer to similar things by different names (i.e. a potluck vs. pitch in). However youth in both cities face similar problems. I’ve been reading the coverage of Arlington High School’s financial problems and that’s a situation I’ve seen play out in Philly year after year. And in both cities youth are excluded from discussions about the problem and solutions. I believe youth should be given a voice to make their opinions known. The choices made at these school board meetings affect their education and their future. Often youth are ignored in decisions that affect them because it’s thought that they don’t know or understand what is best for them. But the outcomes have a large impact on their life and they have a right to be heard.
We’re told as citizens that we need to speak up on issues that affect us. I believe if you want to impart good values it’s best to start young. I came to Indy because MCCOY offered me an opportunity to make a difference with youth. Regardless of location young people face problems and need a way to express their views. They want to talk to those that can help them and MCCOY works to give youth opportunities to be heard.

Why we should use resources for prevention before punishment

This morning, I got onto Facebook to see someone praising a new law that charges women with assault if there are drugs in their baby’s system when it is born. The article shared described a young woman in Marion County (Tennessee) who was recently arrested on this charge and had “a history of meth-related arrests.” Arrests that lead to jail time, instead of medical attention. Arrests that ruin chances of future employment. Arrests that do nothing to solve the root cause of the problem. I’m not saying that what happened with this woman isn’t a problem, but laws like this tend to ignore the situations that lead to drug use and other crimes.  
Maybe if we had programs in place for first time offenders to go into rehab programs, and to get help with job skills, we could empower young people to escape the situations that led to the drug use in the first place.  If there were better resources available when the issue is first discovered, the problem that the article described could have been prevented before it was too late.  Issues like this are what drew me to the Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY). MCCOY focuses on early intervention and preventative measures.   With early intervention, we could put programs in place that could tackle the problem before it got out of hand, and make laws like this unnecessary. It would not only save money by keeping individuals out of the rotating door of the prison system, it would save lives.
Learn more about MCCOY’s Early Intervention & Prevention Initiative here:

Why Dreamers Love Indianapolis

Why Dreamers Love Indianapolis
Last Friday, I walked into the old City Hall, an imposing edifice downtown built from Indiana limestone.  Now transformed into The Hall, the building has played an important role in Indy’s history.  Constructed in the early 1900s to symbolize “the stability and achievements of the city,” the Hall housed government offices, the State Museum, and Central Library.  It was an essential building until 2008, when after almost 100 years of use it sat vacant.  Thanks to a local nonprofit, in 2014 old City Hall became The Hall and now serves as a meeting space for community-based initiatives.
Now, I am a city girl through and through.  I have a Vonnegut doll, a penchant for eating too much Bazbeaux pizza, and a passion for promoting progress in Naptown.  That’s how I found myself at The Hall for Indy 5X5 – re:Purpose, an event that’s part of a bigger plan to strengthen the community.  
Here’s the rundown: Indy 5X5 chooses five presenters to share their ideas for “repurposing urban waste into assets,” community members vote for a favorite, and the winner walks away with $10,000 toward his/her project.  Sounds riveting, right?  As much as I thought this was an awesome way to spend my Friday evening, I was hardly expecting a large crowd. 
Boy, was I mistaken.  Every folding chair on the expansive marble floor was occupied; small groups stood along the back wall and in doorways leading to halls under construction.  Around the room, community members networked and spoke of Indy’s potential.  When it was time for 5X5, we all squeezed into the dense rows of flimsy chairs and held tight our voting tickets for the end of the evening.
engineThe presenters’ projects varied in size and scope, but shared a common vision of community collaboration.  The winning park project, E.N.G.I.N.E, centers on repurposing a Bonneville into artwork that celebrates the community’s Hispanic heritage.  This park project fills a spot that has been long empty, and will allow youth in the Near Westside to have both a safe place to play and a space that embraces culture.

When I got home, I sat at my small kitchen table, looked at my limestone Indiana paperweight, and began to dream up my own projects for the city.

So why do dreamers love Indianapolis?  Because when I walked into The Hall on Friday, I saw a community gathered together for a noble cause.  I saw The Hall repurposed from a vacant building into a haven for innovative pursuits.  Finally, I saw a start-up group with a great idea given the opportunity to benefit its neighborhood in a big way!
Our vast network of nonprofits and committed government officials allows community members with great ideas to uniquely repurpose Indianapolis. 
I am proud to be part of one such nonprofit that is encouraging and innovative in its community pursuits.  As we speak, MCCOY is working on some very exciting stuff including a revamped Youth Advocacy Council, the Family Access Network services center, and of course much, much more!

For more information, visit 🙂

City Hall References:
Historical information regarding Old Indianapolis City Hall retrieved from Park Service. “Old Indianapolis City Hall.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 01 July 2014.
Photo Credit:
People for Urban Progress website:“The Hall– New Life for Old City Hall.” People for Urban Progress. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2014.Indy 5X5 website:“5×5 Indy » Re:Purpose.” Arts, Innovation, 5X5 Indianapolis. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2014.