PRIDE Academy inspires Texarkana Arkansas teens

PRIDE Academy inspires Texarkana Arkansas teens
(Source: Fred Gamble/KSLA News 12)
(Source: Fred Gamble/KSLA News 12)

TEXARKANA, AR (KSLA) - A program in Texarkana, Arkansas is inspiring kids and teaches them tools to deal with life's hardships.

PRIDE (Personal Responsibility in Daily Efforts) Academy's goal is to reduce at-risk behaviors by promoting healthy lifestyles, educational and financial achievement through positive influences. The program was created by the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department.

The program will last a week. Approximately 150 teens are participating in this year's event. According to Bennett, the juvenile crime rate has seen a decrease of 37 percent in the last five years, which TAPD is really proud of.

"We spend a whole week with these kids speaking about confidence issues building leaderships," said Texarkana Arkansas police spokeswoman Kristi Bennett.

"The school district has shown 80% of PRIDE students have no behavior infraction since becoming a PRIDE student," Bennett said. "So we are very proud to see our results successful not only in the schools but on the streets as well."

"It teaches you leadership and how to be a better person," said 12-year-old Clayton Jacobs.

Clayton attended last year's PRIDE Academy as a student. This year, he and his mother Kelly O'Neil are back as volunteers.

"Every emotion he had came out as anger," O'Neil said. "After he came to PRIDE, he could tell me, 'I feel mad and frustrated' or 'I feel sad' or he could really label his emotions."

According to TAPD, the program's success has other law enforcement agencies across the nation examining the idea.

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