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Texarkana PRIDE Academy seeks youth peer leaders - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Texarkana PRIDE Academy seeks youth peer leaders

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The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department has been inundated with juveniles who are committing misdemeanor offences, such as theft or simple assault, that do not result in any type of corrective programs or incarceration. Unfortunately, there are limited corrective resources and opportunities for offenders and their family.

Early intervention has proven effective in promoting productive citizenship, thus reducing the risk lifestyle in criminal behaviors/activity. Based on this premise, the P.R.I.D.E. (Personal Responsibility In Daily Effort) Academy was established in 2012 as a method to deter these early infractions and negative behaviors and promote positive life choices among young children in the Texarkana, Arkansas community.

Texarkana Arkansas Police Department (TAPD) operates under a philosophy that guides our efforts to provide our community with the excellent police services it deserves. Under this philosophy the TAPD developed the concept for the P.R.I.D.E. Academy as a way to provide a positive outlet for developing young adults so that they may choose a better life for themselves and those around them.

The mission of P.R.I.D.E. Academy is to alter at-risk behaviors in youth by providing a positive influence in their lives before reaching adulthood. By creating a lasting relationship between at-risk youth and law enforcement, a support network is formed that encourages trust and respect, which is often lacking for these students, especially in the home/community setting. To meet program goals, the following methods are implemented:

  • Provide encouragement and direction for making quality life choices
  • Teach self-discipline
  • Create a positive experience with law enforcement
  • Build self-confidence by working with participants in a team concept

P.R.I.D.E. Academy is a week-long program for approximately 125 incoming fifth grade students of College Hill Middle School in the Texarkana Arkansas School District. The program is offered at no costs to the students with the only requirement being daily attendance throughout the week. During the camp, students participate in learning sessions related to various risk-factors, including alcohol/tobacco/other drug use/abuse, violence, self-care, and negative attitudes. To promote positive behaviors, participants learn about goal setting, anger management/conflict resolution, personal achievement, family dynamics, and self-esteem. All sessions use an interactive style, encouraging participants to practice decision-making, coping, and refusal skills. This allows participants to make positive life choices within their daily life. Service learning and team building are two other components included in the framework of the camp to help foster healthy relationships. This years' service learning project will include the children building an outdoor classroom on the school campus grounds.

Additionally, participant accomplishments are commended upon completion of the week with a graduation ceremony, where each student is provided a diploma and backpack full of all required school supplies needed to begin the school year. To reinforce behaviors learned during P.R.I.D.E, an after-care component is currently being developed within the school. With the help of the community, a solid mentoring program is hoped to be established at the end of this year's P.R.I.D.E Academy. Information on the upcoming mentoring program is attached with this document.

The successful outcomes of the 2012 P.R.I.D.E. Academy exceeded initial expectations. Disciplinary infractions of program participants have been measured, comparing in their fourth grade to fifth grade year. Data shows a 56 percent decrease in documented behavior infractions - which may result in detention, in school suspension, or out of school suspension. From the same comparison, 13 students who had one or more behavior infractions in the fourth grade did not have any in the fifth grade. Each P.R.I.D.E. Academy participation disciplinary infractions and academic achievement will continue to be monitored throughout the duration of their enrollment at Texarkana Arkansas School District and throughout the early adulthood years by the TAPD.

The 2014 P.R.I.D.E Academy begins on August 4th through August 8th at the North Heights Junior High School Campus. We are expecting 125 College Hill Middle School Students and 50 young adults of the Texarkana area to serve as youth peer leaders. All members of the media are invited to attend this event on Monday at 9:00am for the opening ceremonies and on Friday at 12:00pm for the P.R.I.D.E. graduation.


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