In March 1997 Drug Intervention Community Educators (DICE) was born and consisted of approximately eight members of high school age. Since that time, DICE has increased their membership to 35 youth who are in either their junior or senior year in high school. This alone is a huge accomplishment, never mind the fact that they have planned, organized, participated in or attended more than 220 events.
DICE is a nonprofit organization, which meets once a week for two hours at the East Providence City Hall to plan events, etc. Besides weekly meetings, DICE has approximately 1-3 events in which they either plan or attend every week. They are a year-round group, which never stops, not even in the summers. On an average, every year, each member puts in approximately 700 hours of voluntary community service.
The DICE program enhances protective factors, empowers youth and helps to create a sense of community, thus reducing the risk of substance abuse, negative school experience, teen pregnancy, crime and prejudice. For example, in East Providence there are very few places where teenagers can “hang out”. The Recreation Department is out of the geographical area for the city’s neediest youth and has very limited offerings. There are no youth centers besides the school-based activities (none of which are community service oriented) and there are little to no opportunities for youth to get involved and have a voice in their community. As a result of being bored, youth get in trouble and often turn to drugs.
DICE by no means single-handedly solves this problem, but offers the youth an alternative to making healthy decisions. Through being involved in the youth-run program, the teens learn leadership and organizational skills, along with how to act responsibly and be an active, contributing part of the community.
In the past few years, DICE has had so many notable achievements that the organization is not only known citywide but also statewide. The media is constantly covering DICE events, and one newspaper has recently given DICE a weekly column in which they will feature a DICE member and all of his/her positive deeds. DICE has not only empowered youth, but in turn, has empowered an entire community.