What were you doing at 7:30am this morning? We were walking through the doors of Arlington High School dreaming of coffee and wondering what the day had in store. Catalyst has partnered with the JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) program through Goodwill Industries to teach civic engagement to the students and engage them in improving their community. It is no surprise the students in this program are faced with a multitude of community issues, from violence to teen pregnancy; from drugs to peer pressure. While the number of issues goes on and on, the students have no problem articulating their concerns and what they want to see change in their neighborhood. The thing is these challenges have been plaguing the Indianapolis community for decades and aren’t new problems.
As we went through the day working with the students in envisioning their perfect community and exploring their unique skills and passions that can make their perfect community a reality, one thing was certain. There is an undeniable hope, creativity, and sense of responsibility among these young people to leave their mark on Arlington and the community. The students came up with several ideas to address the violence in their school, raise money through fun student activities, and raise awareness about the things that matter to them.
We had a great session today at Arlington, but one thing keeps sticking in the back of our minds. How do the students’ ideas move from an index card on a poster? How does the hope we saw translate to widespread community change? The answer is simple to us; it is going to take all of us. The youth of Arlington are ready to leave their mark, but it takes teens, adults, and the community to join together to support and use all of our strengths and passions for the betterment of Indianapolis. This is what Catalyst is all about. We want all generations of Indianapolis working together for the common goal of community change and ultimately world change. It starts with one, but takes us all. Are you ready?