A chance meeting a couple of years ago was the catalyst for a youth Life Skills program being developed in St. Charles Parish.
“In 2019 Sgt. Perrilloux and I were introduced to Ms. Nena Matherne at a community service event,” Lt. Roanne Sampson, who works in the Juvenile Programs Division of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, said. “She expressed how South Central Louisiana Human Service Authority had some great programs for kids, and that’s something our division is always looking for. We contacted South Central and learned about their evidence-based Life Skills program.”
SCLHSA put Sampson in touch with one of its community partners – Thoughts Before Actions – who was teaching the Life Skills curriculum in St. John Parish.
“Thoughts Before Actions is a non-profit 501c3 organization that serves the River Parish communities,” Denarold Anderson, executive director of TBA, said. “The mission of Thoughts Before Actions is to impact, inspire and enhance the lives of young adults. We aim to do this by empowering them to do just as our names implies, think before they act. We firmly believe that young people exposed to positivity will go forward to lead positive lives. Thoughts Before Actions helps teenagers make better decisions by challenging them to never let emotions outweigh their intelligence.”
Sampson said once she and others at the sheriff’s office learned more about the program, the decision was made to bring it to St. Charles Parish.
The Life Skills program began locally during the summer of 2019, but due to the pandemic classes were postponed until last month. There are currently two ongoing classes – one for fifth graders and another for eighth graders.
“We would like to provide the Life Skills program to all parish youth in the fifth and eighth grade curriculums in the future, but for this particular class we chose students from Luling Elementary because we are involved there,” Sampson said. “Luling Elementary is one of our partner schools, and we have built a rapport with the students, administrators, teachers and parents.”
Sampson said one benefit of the program is helping the youth involved develop better problem solving and critical thinking skills.
“This can improve academics and reduce bullying and violence,” she said. “We also want to build confidence in communication by allowing them to express themselves creatively through words, art and music. The kids also develop people skills by working together with others in a group setting.”
Sampson said a few of the goals of the Life Skills program is to facilitate a place where parish youth can learn new things and be in a safe environment.
“Most importantly, we want to continue building positive relationships between law enforcement, the youth and the community,” she said.
The current class session will be ending soon, and Sampson said that the team is hopeful to begin another session this month and then start another one during the summer.
Any parent interested in enrolling their child can contact Sampson at 985-308-1700.