Zionsville Youth Assistance Program selects first coordinator


By Mark Ambrogi


Andrew Manna had watched closely as the Hamilton County Youth Assistance Program successfully helped coordinate countywide programs and services for troubled students. After surveying a variety of Zionsville organizations and finding that they overwhelmingly supported a similar program here, he helped launch the Zionsville Youth Assistance Program.

“We noticed there is a need in Zionsville for mentoring or mental health counseling or family counseling, all those different things that may impact a student’s ability to stay out of trouble and stay in school,” said Manna, president of the ZYAP board who also serves as an attorney for Zionsville Community Schools.

The young organization recently took a big step forward by selecting Heather Shumaker as its first coordinator. Shumaker also serves as the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiatives coordinator for Boone County and has experience as a criminal defense attorney for juveniles and adults. She has also worked as a grant writer for Horizon House and completed two years of AmeriCorps at Indiana Legal Services.

“What really sparked my transition into these new roles was I wanted to make a difference and I felt like I wasn’t doing that as an attorney,” Shumaker said in an e-mail. “Specifically, I noticed both my juveniles and adults had similar backgrounds. With ZYAP, we will educate families about community resources and get children plugged into whatever resources they need.”

ZYAP won’t directly offer services for youth in need, rather it serves as a coordinator for the various organizations that do, such as police departments, schools and private companies. The board is currently working on fundraising and hopes the organization will be working with students and families in need by mid-2015. The goal is to provide a helping hand to troubled youth before they end up in the juvenile detention system.

“My hope is to empower children to be their best self — whatever that looks like,” Shumaker said. “We believe that in doing this, we can keep children out of the juvenile justice system as well as the adult system. Perhaps more importantly, we can benefit the community by having stable families and a productive citizenry.”

ZCHS to host suicide prevention meeting for adults

Parents will learn about QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), an evidence-based suicide prevention training program, at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Zionsville Community High School auditorium.

Carlabeth Mathias, a private therapist and former school counselor, and Dr. Amy Rexroth, a psychologist, are conducting the seminar.

“It gives the participants the skills in what to do if someone they know seems to be sad, very depressed and showing signs of suicidal ideation,” Mathias said. “It gives them background on what to look for and it gives them skills in conversation on what to do if someone is feeling that hopeless that they would be considering ending their life.”

Space is limited, but free tickets are available at http://goo.gl/LbzgKn.