Several community members are restarting the Landing Zone program, a program aimed at providing support for Shelbyville teenagers.

Grace Wesleyan Church Pastor Jose Rivera stepped up to assume the director role of the program after the previous director resigned following COVID.

“Before I was involved there was a program called the Landing Zone,” Rivera explained. “It was originally out of Crossroads Church with Pastor Andy Lee. I got to know Andy through mutual friends and he’s a very cool pastor. His church is a little bit bigger than are. Andy and I became friends, because we’re two young pastors in the community.”

“They decided to do a teens who are in crisis program because they realized there’s nothing for middle/high schoolers in this town,” he continued. “They got with some other people and decided to have some teen meetings on Tuesday nights.”

The meetings moved to the Echo Effect building, 102 E. Washington Street, after that building had been refurbished by someone who attends Crossroad Community Church.

“They turned an old bar into a campus that is just – from the outside it still looks like a bar, but it looks incredible on the inside,” Rivera said, referring to the new stage and lights. “It even has a fog machine.”

“They were going good and then COVID hit and it all stopped,” Rivera said. “In the midst of that the leader resigned from director of the Landing Zone. Andy, we were friends and he knew I had experience with a team similar to the landing zone back in Greensburg [where Rivera is from], and he asked if I would revive this.”

Rivera said teens face new challenges with anxiety, depression and isolation after being stuck at home during the height of the pandemic. Because of this, he, Lee, and a few other members serving on the Landing Zone’s Board of Trustees (Rivera, Lee, Mary Lawler, Mark Daulton and Ann Havens) felt they needed to get the program going again.

On top of teens struggling with these issues, Rivera said the parents are struggling too. So they’re kicking off the New Landing Zone program with an event called “5 Nites of Hope.”

“We decided to do an event to not only provide resources for the teens but their parents for the same thing,” Rivera said. “Parents don’t know how to deal with their teen who has been home and has pent-up anxiety.”

Rivera said the event is aimed at both teens and parents, and will take place for five Tuesday nights in a row starting April 13. He expects the series “to start the fire of conversation between parents and teens and parents and the parents and the community.”

The families will meet at the Echo Effect building at 6 p.m., and the adults will be taken over to Just Peachy Cafe while the teens remain at the Echo Effect building.

“The cool thing about this is we have Just Peachy Cafe helping us, we’re gonna meet at the echo effect campus, and then we’re gonna split up and take the adults to Just Peachy Cafe, leave their kids at echo, and we’re gonna give the adults very specific seminar kind of presentation,” Rivera said. “We’re gonna address topics like youth anxiety and depression, how to identify abuse, how to identify is your youth is having social issues (i.e., bullying and things like that) and youth suicide.”

“The kids will have landing zone meetings with the kids, and we’ll do the same thing with the youth but more age appropriate,” he added.

In addition to the presentation, the New Landing Zone volunteers will provide attendees with other community resources.

Free meals and child care will be provided. Child care is for elementary age students and those interested in utilizing the service must RSVP by calling 317-512-3974 or emailing is havens harmonies@gmail.com.

Following the final night of “5 Nites of Hope,” the New Landing Zone meetings will begin on Tuesday nights at the same time and place.

“I think it’ll be a really good community event that’ll show we’re doing something to help that forgotten generation of middle schoolers and high schoolers and help provide this information for adults who are struggling with what to do with their teens this summer in this post-traumatic era of COVID,” Rivera said.