INDIANAPOLIS — It usually starts with basketball at the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club.
Young people around the ages of 16-24 often visit to pay, but once there, some choose to trade open gym for the classroom as part of EmployIndy's two-week Power Huddle program.
"When I got into the program, I was like, 'OK, I like this program," Darion Cook said.
Cook said he knew from the beginning this program was different.
"OK, I can get something out of it. I can really make something of my life with this program, and it can help me," he said.
Power Huddle is all about changing your mindset. Each participant creates a vision board outlining their goals for the future. They learn skills to help set them up for success.
"It is huge. It has really become what we see as the secret ingredient," EmployIndy's Rodney Francis said. "This experience allows those who are ready to have some time to adjust to the expectations that will be upon them to meet their goals and objectives, things like getting up on time, thinking through the day, being ready for work. All those soft skills."
Francis said the program offers young people something that is positive and constructive.
"It also gives them hope," he said. "I'm excited because we are here speaking about these young people with a sense of hope and aspiration, and not he grief and other violence that come along with living in tough neighborhoods."
They also have tough conversations. The class recently discussed the quadruple homicide that happened in the neighborhood on Feb. 5.
"It's not just a group program," Cook said. "It gets personal."
All while being surrounded by mentors who want to see them succeed.
"That makes me feel good because I've never really had that. I lost my mom at an early age at 8 years old," Cook said. "I'm feeling inspired, excited. I'm feeling a lot right now. I'm glad to be here today."