- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indianapolis public safety officials are launching a new version of a summer boot camp designed to keep teenagers off the streets, this time targeting at-risk girls with activities ranging from yoga to cooking.

The program is part of a broader effort to keep youths away from violence and teach them job-training and character-building skills.

Traditionally, those efforts have focused on males. But police decided to add a program for 15 to 20 girls who have had minor issues in school or with police or live in high-risk neighborhoods, said Randy Taylor, community affairs commander for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

“These are kids that maybe would benefit from a positive relationship with law enforcement,” Taylor told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1HInaOa ).

Participants can explore programs including yoga, ballet, gardening and cooking and will go on field trips around the city and the Midwest.

The Department of Public Safety is taking another approach, launching a fundraising initiative designed to expand job opportunities for young people.

“We realize that making sure youth have something to do in the summer is a big part of keeping them out of activities that would potentially put them in harm’s way,” said Valerie Washington, the city’s deputy director of public safety. “It gives them an opportunity for youth to earn money and have a sense of responsibility.”

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said the programs that will be part of the city’s jobs initiative have not yet been chosen and will depend on the funds available.

Past programs have included Clean for Green, a trash-cleaning program that is now in its fourth year.

Pastor James Jackson of Fervent Prayer Church, one of the lead facilitators of the program that has been re-dubbed “Youth Jobs Indy,” said participants can earn $25 per four-hour shift. He said the program brings in guest speakers to teach youths about conflict resolution and how to be responsible with money.

Sherron Anderson, a mother of three boys, said the program helps teach her sons the value of money.

“It has really, really taught them work ethic,” she said. “It has taught them how to manage money. It makes them eager to make money the honest way.”

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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