It takes the ‘hood to save the ‘hood. That’s the motto of Haughville resident Teddrick Hardy, who knows his often overlooked west side neighborhood can be known for more than high crime rates and poverty.
“It was me growing up in an area and knowing how things were when I was a kid, and now that I am older, I noticed things were not the same,” Hardy explained.
Rather than relying on law enforcement or government officials to improve his neighborhood, he inspired local residents to get involved.
Last year, Hardy launched what is now known as the Lynn Park Project. Every Sunday, Hardy and a group of volunteers host a family-friendly gathering at Lentz Park,called Lynn Park by locals, complete with food and entertainment options. Community members donate snacks and drinks, neighbors connect and children have a good time.
“On any random Sunday, you may find someone teaching the kids how to fix a bike or how to paint,” Hardy said. “My main focus is to have different activities. I have a bounce house area, a basketball training area and some days I have ladies painting the kids’ nails. I have free food and chips and candy for the kids — and sometimes for the parents, depending on how they are acting that day.”
The event has grown substantially since last summer. On any given weekend between 25 and 100 people come to the park. As the word spread, the event began to attract visitors from across the city. On Saturday, city leaders including Mayor Joe Hogsett visited Lentz Park during a clean up day.
“Before it was just a Haughville thing but now I get people from different parts of town,” Hardy said. “It’s for the city, for the community, and when people come from out of town, they hear about what we are doing, so they stop by after church. That’s where I have seen the most growth this year, with outsiders coming in and feeling comfortable and welcome.”
Since launching the Lynn Park Project, Hardy has received feedback from neighbors who feel the project has played a role in cutting down crime.
“It’s impactful because people need to be together,” Hardy said. “I feel like crime happens a lot when people don’t know each other or know other’s situations. Now everyone is coming together and seeing eye to eye, and it spreads throughout the community. I have seen less crime. I have a lot of people telling me about it.”
While Hardy will not accept cash donations, community members are welcome to donate food, drinks, supplies and time to the project. For more information, visit facebook.com/TeddHardyCollection or follow lynnparkproject on Instagram.
(Originally published in The Indianapolis Recorder)