Derrick Carter puts his art aside to be a steady role model for teens

Derrick Carter is known to Indianapolis as mixed media artist and recipient of the Beckmann Fellowship for Emerging Artists from the Indianapolis Arts Council in 2016, but to Benjamin Harrison YMCA teens, they know him as Derrick, Teen Night staff.

Growing up in the Y

Derrick experienced YMCA youth and teen programs growing up at the Urban Mission Y. It was only natural that he transition into a volunteer for Teen Night and most recently became staff.

“Through the Teen program, the Y has helped me understand the process of growth from a teen to a man through the Y’s core values of Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, and Caring. These values were the foundation that helped structure me into the man I am today. The teen program has allowed me to share my life stories and knowledge with others who can relate. Being able to put myself in the shoes of teens in the program helps me reflect back on my life as a youth/teen. The Y has allowed me to have a positive influence on teens which will improve the next generation as well as myself.”

Giving teens a positive choice

Our most popular teen program is Teen Night which meets from 7-10 p.m. almost every Saturday. Admission is free for members and $5 for guests. Youth age 11 to seniors in high school take over the Benjamin Harrison YMCA to play basketball, video games, board games, and just hang out. The main purpose of Teen Night is to provide a safe space.

“When teens get bored and are forced to find direction, they seek out other avenues that may lead to situations that they normally wouldn’t gravitate toward, such as drugs and violence. The YMCA created Teen Night to keep teens occupied in a positive setting. Teen Night helps keep at-risk teens off the streets and out of trouble,” said Derrick.

Changing his course

Derrick realized his outstanding artistic ability early on, but did not pursue it. He spent most of his time playing basketball and chasing girls. It wasn’t until he got into an accident that the course of his life was changed forever.

“I was on my way to junior prom, and I was assisting my date, when I was run down by a van. I broke every bone on the right side of my body, except my right arm and hand (that I used to create my art). That was my wake-up call and testimony that God gave me a gift, and that I should use it,” said Derrick.

After spending over six months in a hospital, Derrick made the decision to pursue his art career and not put it off any longer. He has been featured in Nuvo, Indianapolis Recorder, and Indy Arts Guide. You can check out Derrick Carter originals on his website, The Art in Carter. Derrick also has a beautiful five-canvas piece at the Indianapolis Airport.

Derrick Carter's installment at the Indianapolis Airport.
Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder

Role models needed

During Teen Night, Derrick plays basketball with the teens and comes up with ideas to improve the way basketball is run to give everyone a chance to play.

“It’s great to have Derrick on staff and working with the teens. He is a positive influence and a role model for them,” says Amber Miller, YMCA associate sports and teen director.

The program always needs volunteers. “Just knowing that people care about them, teaching different life skills and giving options for the future is what we strive for through community involvement.”

More ways to grow

The Youth & Government program is new to our YMCA. This program gives kids the opportunity to get involved in government processes, improve public speaking, gain confidence and leadership  skills. The first meeting is Sept. 5 at the Benjamin Harrison YMCA. Email Amber for more information.

Support teen programs

The Benjamin Harrison YMCA annual fundraiser, Summer Bash, is Aug. 15 at the Garrison. Proceeds will benefit youth & teen leadership and advancement programs. The night is full of fun, food and a silent auction. This year, two Derrick Carter originals will be auctioned. Tickets are available for the Summer Bash now and the silent auction will be available remotely. Look for more information on the Benjamin Harrison YMCA Facebook page.

Derrick at Teen Night

Derrick is a staple staff member of Teen Night at the Benjamin Harrison YMCA

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