The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department is preparing for P.R.I.D.E. Academy 2018, that will begin on Monday July 30, though Friday August 3, at College Hill Middle School. The general public is invited to stop by to see this unique community outreach program in action. 

The P.R.I.D.E. Academy is a 5 day camp for 100 entering 6th graders that provides tools and education for students to make positive life choices. The P.R.I.D.E. Academy places police officers as coaches with these students at a local middle school, supplemented with other instructors and health care professionals. The students are taught decision making skills, coping techniques, enhanced self-esteem, and anger management. Each year, the students complete at least two community service projects such as cleaning up local parks and packaging food at the local food bank. The students also gain school and community pride while bonding with police officers to build positive lasting relationships and a more positive view of law enforcement.

The goal of the P.R.I.D.E Academy is to reduce at-risk behaviors by promoting healthy lifestyles, educational achievement, and financial stability in youth by building positive influences in their lives before reaching adulthood. While building on the concept of self-confidence, discipline, and team participation, lessons and activities based on a variety of topics are provided in an interactive format. Some of the activities include team building, obstacle course, skits, music, and meeting the K-9’s. Additionally, the campers learn about dangers of drugs and alcohol, gang prevention, peer pressure, anti-bullying, internet safety, gun safety, first aid, and what to do in an emergency. The instructors for these learning blocks are representatives from our community partners. The last day of this camp is designed to recognize the children’s accomplishments over the week. The day ends with a graduation ceremony attended by their families and diplomas awarded by the Chief of Police. Campers are also given a full size backpack containing all of the required school supplies needed for the upcoming school year.

The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department (TAPD) Public Information Officer Kristi Bennett developed the concept for the P.R.I.D.E. Program to provide a diversion program for economically and socially disadvantaged at-risk young adults in its jurisdiction to learn life, people, and behavioral coping skills so they are equipped to choose to be productive members of the community as they move into adulthood rather than emulate some of the poor life choices such as gang membership and criminal enterprise that they have as examples in the home.

This year, 2018, will be the seventh year of operation for the P.R.I.D.E.