LET’S FOCUS: 300+ attend rally to prevent risky behavior [with gallery]

Published 12:48 am Thursday, October 12, 2017

There were more than 300 students from schools across South Alabama at First Baptist Church Andalusia on Wednesday for the 15th annual FOCUS Rally for Awareness put on by FOCUS Alabama.

According to their website, FOCUS promotes school and community partnerships for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and other adolescent risk behaviors.

The program is based on a student-led approach and seeks to promote youth involvement in the planning of prevention activities.

The class includes: FOCUS group training, peer helping, peer mediation, peer tutoring, violence prevention, and positive decision-making skills. Other features of the program include planning monthly health observances, a yearly school health fair, and service learning. Teacher training is provided through various Regional Education In-service Centers.

The students began the morning in the church where WSFA’s Josh Johnson spoke to them about losing his brother, Chris, to a drug overdose.

Johnson talked about the need to combat mental health issues that can stem from drug use or cause someone to turn drugs.

“Right now, the addicts get arrested, thrown into jail and then thrown back out of jail,” Johnson said. “After that it’s really hard to get a job with a criminal record, so they end up back in jail and the cycle repeats itself. There is a loophole there and legislation is needed to close that loophole up. Alabama thinks the answer is building more prisons, but we have to tackle the problems causing this, and that starts with mental health issues.”

After Johnson finished speaking, the students went to various activities put on by different groups including PowerSouth and Southeast Gas, Andalusia Fire Department, the City of Andalusia, Shannon Bryant Towing, the Covington County Sheriff’s Department and the Army National Guard.

Winn Dixie and McDonald’s helped provide lunch.

Then Andalusia High School Peer Helper group then put on a presentation on Prescription Pill Abuse and Boo to Booze.