We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Gray and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Laura, how does your business help the community?
IPride officially launched in January 2015 when I received my first “no”. Rather than sink down in defeat, it pushed me to pursue my dream and find the right fit for the program.

IPride is a self-esteem building program for youth, aligned, and designed with social emotional learning standards, placing emphasis on mindfulness, creative thought, expression, and basic physical fitness.

While it may be difficult for me to place a value on overall social impact of the work I do with kids, I can certainly attest to the change in energy and sense of self-awareness from the time the workshop begins until it ends. The kids are calmer, filled with a greater appreciation and respect for each other as well as themselves. There is a freedom released, like the wings spreading from a newly formed monarch butterfly, from within each of them, knowing they can create and discuss openly without judgment or pushback. That type of developmental value, in my opinion, is immeasurable on the positive impact to society, both now and in the future.
The challenge, at this point, is to keep up with the growing need and demands for the program’s curriculum.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My initial reaction to this question is to reflect on how IPride successfully pivoted, like many other businesses, during the Covid pandemic. Shortly after lockdown, a local college, whom I had done in-person work with prior, reached out to me seeking resources for their students who were suffering from confusion and anxiety. Within days, I created a YouTube channel featuring a series of original videos called “IPride in 5: Peace in Peace Out”, 5 minutes of mindfulness, stretching, affirmations and meditation. These virtual messages were well received and much appreciated by both students and administration. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCklf9sNb5Dvg3okB4Jf023Q

Living in the moment and yet looking ahead, my challenge is to stay fluid and meaningful. IPride provides a creative safe space for kids, a reset both mentally and emotionally. My goal is to work with educators, and others who serve youth, in a “train the trainer” capacity of the IPride curriculum to ultimately create a strong, supportive global presence spreading love and light in the lives of our youth. Effective March 2022, IPride has evolved into Agape Woods, an unconditional love camp for kids with structured activities for youth, seniors and animals. I am passionately and currently creating this nonprofit. Agape Woods. Love happens!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ahhhh…if my best friend visited Northeast Ohio, we would spend the time hiking and camping in the beautiful parks. There is nothing like connecting to God, nature and self and Ohio is blessed to have some of the most magnificent trails. Walks and picnics along the sandy shores of Lake Erie would also be part of our experience.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
For my shoutout, I raise my voice to the heavens and praise God for the life I have been given, including the bumps along the way. The beautiful, bittersweet and challenging lessons which have served to strengthen me and have guided me to discover my life’s purpose through the pain.

Website: https://www.ipride.net/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellegray/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCklf9sNb5Dvg3okB4Jf023Q

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.