Leonardtown, MD – For one night only, southern Maryland is getting its first drive-in movie theater since 1983. On May 13, The Promise Resource Center (PRC) will be hosting a Drive-In Family Movie Event at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds, complete with a 40’ movie screen and drive-in style parking. Using the Event as a platform, the Promise Center wants to raise awareness of the importance of early detection of children’s mental health concerns.  The memorable evening will also include dinner and dessert concessions, as well as pre-movie entertainment from favorite local bands including The Piranhas, Latrice Carr, GTO Band, and DJ Mean Gene. Crafts, games, bounce houses, live animals, and face painting will be made available by other local organizations who hold a special interest in children’s mental health.

In honor of the Drive-In Event, the Board of County Commissioners will be declaring May 13th to be Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in St. Mary’s County. The Promise Center staff say they hope the proclamation will help people in the community connect with local early childhood mental health resources. One (1) in five (5) children aged birth to eighteen (18) years has a diagnosable mental disorder; and seventy-five to eighty percent of children and youth in need of mental health services do not receive them. “We want families to realize that it is okay to seek out information and resources regarding mental health, especially when it concerns the wellbeing of their children,” says Jennifer Murphy, Executive Director of The Promise Resource Center.

The staff at The Promise Resource Center have been anxiously awaiting this moment since October, when planning began for PRC’s Drive-In Movie Event.  “While we hope to at least cover our expenses, this event isn’t a fundraiser for us.  We wanted to create an evening that our local families wouldn’t soon forget,” said Tina Stone, PRC’s Finance and Administration Director and the event’s chief organizer. “There’s just something about watching a movie at a drive-in that makes it more than just a movie.  There’s a togetherness and sense of community that you just don’t get at an indoor movie theater.”

Through their Facebook page and website, PRC has already been successful at bringing attention to the common but often overlooked subject of children’s mental health. “We’ve opened up the dialog in reference to children’s mental health, and parents have responded well by keeping the conversation going and sharing their own experiences on our social media pages,” says Murphy. Since tickets went on sale in February, buzz for the drive-in event has been spreading throughout the tri-county area. The Promise Resource Center hopes to keep the momentum going by running several contests on social media where parents are encouraged to share their experiences regarding their children’s’ mental health including worries and breakthroughs. Winners will receive complimentary tickets to the event.

Funds raised above expenses for the event will support Project First Choice, a grant-funded program that helps families in southern Maryland who have young children that are experiencing social and emotional or behavior concerns. Often these are children who have special needs, who speak English as a second language, or are living in low income households.

For more information or to buy tickets to PRC’s Drive-In Family Movie Event, please visit PRC’s website at thepromisecenter.org/drivein.