DHS students, leaders learn about risk behaviors at rally

TALLADEGA – Representatives from Demopolis High School were among those that attended the 12th Annual FOCUS Rally April 30 at the Shocco Springs Conference Center. Over 650 participants from 32 FOCUS schools and numerous community organizations from all over the State of Alabama gathered to address adolescent risk behaviors. FOCUS’ 12th Annual FOCUS Rally empowered students to lead prevention activities in their schools and communities.

The Keynote Speaker was Kent Julian, from Atlanta, Georgia. He presented “SHOW UP AND SHINE.”

Attending from Demopolis were Bill Barley, Hannah Webb, Carley Lawrence, Connie Brown, Xavair Jackson, Madelyn Brooker, Matt Dollar and Jordan Durrett.

Attending from Demopolis were Bill Barley, Hannah Webb, Carley Lawrence, Connie Brown, Xavair Jackson, Madelyn Brooker, Matt Dollar and Jordan Durrett.

Julian’s leadership background with students is extensive. Early in his career he led several youth programs including the largest of its kind in his state. He then served as the National Director of Alliance Youth, an organization that works with 2,000 youth groups across the country.

Even Julian’s Master’s degree dissertation was on youth development and “how organizations can better equip the next generation for effective service and leadership.” Yet, he strives to be more than just another “youth expert.” He is personally committed to walk his talk and SHOW UP AND SHINE in the way he lives, works, and leads.

The 2015 break-out sessions included a middle school tract, a high school tract and a special break-out for seniors. Highlights of the different break-out sessions explored new ways to deal with critical issues facing adolescents today. Topics included internet safety, underage drinking, heroine addiction, dangers of tanning beds, teenage pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and the Heritage Panel (creating a welcoming school environment).

The Rally also offered a Health and Resource Fair to all participants. The fair included eighteen exhibits from organizations throughout the state of Alabama. The Health and Resource Fair was an excellent chance for students to learn about different subjects in an interactive and fun environment.

Professional development credit was offered for educators and social workers for their attendance at the Rally.

For more information on the annual FOCUS Rally please visit www.thefocusprogram.com.