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Project P.R.I.D.E. teaches students to take pride

Photo+via+https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FMounutain_View_Unit+under+the+Creative+Commons+License
Photo via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mounutain_View_Unit under the Creative Commons License

Photo via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mounutain_View_Unit under the Creative Commons License

Photo via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mounutain_View_Unit under the Creative Commons License

Ayana Hampton, Editor

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On February 7th, 2017; Monique Boyd-Cruz, Emily Vandermark, Rashif, and Connor, four members of Project P.R.I.D.E., shared their stories at Woodbridge Middle School.

Project P.R.I.D.E. stands for Promoting Responsibility in Drug Education. The program was created in 1998 to help reduce the use of drugs and alcohol by youth. Monique, Emily, Rashif, and Connor present to other schools so that the younger generation of today does not make the same mistakes. Emily and Monique are incarcerated at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton Township. Rashif and Connor are incarcerated at Mountainview Prison and Youth Correctional Facility, in Annadale.

Rashif first explained what happens when an inmate arrives at jail. “We go through Craft. You get one toothbrush a day and one pair of shoes. That’s it.” They are usually called by their number, and sometimes their last name, but their first name was never used. Then, he explained that he was friends with “the wrong group of kids” and started to sell drugs. A man robbed him of his drugs, and as an act of revenge, Rashif tried to rob the man back. It was not a good day for Rashif.

Emily’s parents didn’t have a good relationship with each other, and her mother moved out of the house when Emily was 6 years old, and she lived with her father until the age of 8, when she returned to her mother. At the age of 16, Emily switched parents again, but her father was not the most responsible parent. She was arrested twice for the possession of heroin, and was released both times by bail. However, she was not able to get released for her third offense, and was arrested.

Connor not only had to go to prison, but he also lost a friend. He drove under the influence, and got into a car accident. Connor’s face was severely injured during the accident, resulting in requiring surgery. His close friend died in the car accident, and Connor landed in jail for second-degree murder. Connor said, “As long as I change one person’s life, I feel that I did something good.” He also said that doing Project Pride is never “normal”, and that there are different situations every day. He has been doing Project Pride for 18 months.

When Monique Boyd-Cruz does other Project Pride Events, there is a certain routine that she has to repeat. Leave the prison, present, then return. But February 7th, 2017 was a different day, for she had a recent loss in the family. “At the last school I presented at today, I cried on stage.” she said. Monique was not able to go to the funeral, or say goodbye.

The main goal of Project P.R.I.D.E. is to share the stories of others. However, at the end of the day, these four others and many more people have to return to prison. When asked, the head of Project P.R.I.D.E. was asked if he was upset that he had to take the prisoners back home. He said that they were good people for participating for educating the youth, but what he had to do had to be done.

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Project P.R.I.D.E. teaches students to take pride