The North Dakota Adult and Teen Challenge program has been changing people’s lives since 2005. They help people fight our state’s opioid epidemic and other drug addictions head-on.
It teaches parents who have struggled with addiction or who are going through addiction issues the skills they need to provide for their children.
The Adult and Teen Challenge Program has been around since the 1950s, and it is the largest Christian based program in the world.
They deal with students ages 18 and up. The North Dakota program told me they have seen a great need for their students to increase their parenting skills.
Mom and student in the program, Audrey Snyder says, “I grew up in St. Paul Minnesota and it was just a very abusive environment.“
Snyder who is now 19 years-old says she has had anything but an easy life.
“I started smoking weed at 12 and shortly after I got introduced to meth at 15 and then I went down that road for a little while.“
Snyder says she got pregnant with her son at 16. Deep in her addiction, she told me she wanted nothing to do with her son or the father.
“Shortly after I had my son I got back into my drug addiction. I started IV using and then I got introduced to heroin. And that was just a whole other story.“
She told me she was in out of jail for numerous charges. Her parents gave her an ultimatum– if she didn’t get clean they were going to take her son from her, which is what ended up happening.
After her last arrest, the judge gave her the opportunity to join the North Dakota Adult and Teen Challenge Program.
“By the grace of God, I was allowed to be here. And I got told that—well I have 5 felonies and 4 misdemeanors– and I was supposed to be sitting in prison for at least 5 years. And he told me to complete the program at Teen Challenge, and he better not see me in his courtroom again.“
Synder has completed 11 months out of the year long program. I talked to some of the parent mentors who told me the lessons they are trying to instill in their students.
Parent mentor Andy Hill says, “We try to teach the balance of you to love the kids while protecting them from the bad choices they want to make.“
“No one’s perfect. You just have to encourage them,“ adds Parent Mentor, Anne DeKrey. “I guess the purpose for me to be here to get to know the students and their children- develop relationships with them and trust relationships.“
Hill who is also is the men’s director for the program, adds why it’s important to have this new Playroom.
“A lot of our students come from environments where they were either abused or they are ignored and able to do whatever they want– and so they don’t understand the balance between rules and love. There’s either all rules all the time to out of line that I will beat you or yeah do whatever you want.“
Snyder says she has rebuilt the relationship with her parents and son. And even told me that the son’s father is reentering their life as well. She says without this program she would probably be dead right now– and is incredibly thankful.
“I have this overwhelming peace that God has given me and it’s just awesome.“
Over 60% of their funding for the program is from individual donations. Students are only asked to cover $500 out of the full $4,000 cost. If you can’t cover the $500, they told me they will still work with you.
The program has grown to over 200 centers in the US and more than 1,200 worldwide.
For more information about the program and how to help, click here.