PRIDE, Youth and Community Resources was organized in 1982 after a group of parents realized that their teenage children were being exposed to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs at an early age. They saw a need for parents to come together to discuss issues and learn skills they could use to keep their children healthy and drug-free. Originally, this group of parents met in each others’ kitchens and living rooms and held discussion groups. They began their group by calling themselves the Northlake Substance Abuse Task Force.
After receiving positive feedback from participants at the meetings, the group decided to start an organization to address drug prevention issues in the area. The group looked nationally to receive training. At the time, PRIDE, Inc., based in Atlanta, was a leader in drug prevention education offering workshops such as Parent to Parent. The group from St. Tammany attended the national PRIDE conference and came home and changed their name to PRIDE of St. Tammany, Inc. PRIDE’s original acronym was Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education.
The organization grew during the 1980’s and offered parenting classes to anyone interested. The group also worked with the Office of Addictive Disorders to establish prevention workshops for people in recovery to teach them skills they could use to prevent them from recurring substance abuse problems. Funding came from contracts with the Office of Addictive Disorders as well as membership fees and donations.
As PRIDE’s parent programs grew, the need for a youth component was obvious. PRIDE addressed this need in several ways.
At about the same time, a Slidell high School guidance counselor, Linda Woodward, saw the need for training for students in drug prevention skills. Her reasoning was that there was an increasing number of students coming to her to discuss problems they were experiencing. She realized that by the time they got to her office, most had already discussed their problem or issue with a friend their age. She determined that she could use this as an opportunity to train young people on how to react when someone comes to them with a problem. Her theory was that students will be more at ease talking to someone their age instead of talking to an adult. She put together a plan to train youth leaders in how to reach out to peers to encourage them to make healthy choices with their lives and work with them to help them deal with the pressures of being a teenager.
In 1983, Linda Woodward held the first ever Positive Action summer leadership camp at Holy Redeemer retreat center in Lacombe. PRIDE joined her as a sponsor and helped promote the camp and solicit donations. PRIDE worked with Linda and other area guidance counselors as the camp grew throughout the 1980’s. In 1990, the program expanded and Positive Attitude was started for junior high students. In the mid 1990’s, Linda Woodward announced her retirement from Slidell High as well as her desire for the Positive Attitude and Positive Action programs to continue. PRIDE took over the camps in 1997 and they continue to be very successful as over 500 students are trained every summer.
PRIDE, Inc in Atlanta was also in the process of developing a youth component. Their program was focused on a youth performance team called America’s PRIDE. In 1989, PRIDE of St. Tammany hosted trainings in Slidell and Covington to start the PRIDE Troupe of St. Tammany. The first PRIDE Troupe had approximately 20 members and they traveled to schools in the area and presented a performance consisting of songs, dances, and skits promoting a drug free message. Our local youth group is now known as Amplify Youth and has over 150 members from high schools across St. Tammany and Washington parishes.
Our organization also began sponsoring the annual Red Ribbon Celebration in the parish. This nationwide program seeks to raise drug education and awareness among the community during the last week of October every year. Through a cooperation with the St. Tammany Parish School Board, red ribbons or wristbands are distributed to every student in the school system as well as to businesses and other organizations.
Because of the success of our youth and community programs, we have been asked to train organizations and groups in other cities and regions on how to start similar programs in their communities. As we are starting to grow, our board made the decision to rename our organization Amplify Resources effective November 2, 2008.
Currently, PRIDE continues to work toward reducing substance abuse among youth and their families through a wide range of programs and strategies. In addition, we are developing training resources to assist other communities with their youth and community programs. PRIDE, Youth and Community is a 501(C)3 non profit organization with a volunteer board of directors. PRIDE has 2 full time staff members, 1 part time staff member, several contracted employees, and many dedicated volunteers.