Message from the Director

One of my favorite books is Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter. It is a simple fable about doing well in an ever-changing world. Since we have been faced with more change this past year than any one of us ever imagined, it is more pertinent than ever that we adapt to this change and keep moving forward. Everyone from school administrators to high school students could gain from reading this story. I wish I could place copies of this book in every FOCUS school!  

FOCUS is striving to find the best way to meet the needs of our teachers and students by guiding change in peer-led prevention efforts. Please call on us if we can assist you in empowering students to change and succeed under any circumstances. 

Sue Jones, M.Ed.
FOCUS Director
2021 Difference Maker Award
NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN for the 2021 "Difference Maker of the Year!" The Facilitator chosen as the "Difference Maker" will receive $1,000 cash to be used however they choose. The "Difference Maker" will be chosen based on their school's activities, their level of involvement with FOCUS, and the creation of successful prevention activities and events. All nominations must be received by 5:00pm on April 24, 2021.

Click the button below to visit our website for more information!
National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day
April 10, 2021
Begin planning now to recognize National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day in your school and community. We are excited to announce resources that will be made available for your school as you strive to Make a Difference to do your part to ENDING THE HIV EPIDEMIC. You will have access to an on-demand webcast to educate and motivate students. The webcast will feature Tom Robertson, co-founder of FOCUS and former HIV Manager with the Alabama Department of Public Health. We are busy putting together a tool kit to include posters and marketing items, also. If you have submitted your registration with FOCUS for the 2020-2021 year, you should receive your toolkit soon. 
Even though visiting your school in person is not possible at this time, we would love to visit virtually to see what you and your students are doing to provide student-led prevention of adolescent risk behaviors through FOCUS and Peer Helping! If interested, please complete the form so that a member of the FOCUS staff may visit with your students virtually and see the amazing activities being planned in your school. Use the Google Form to contact us if you would like additional FOCUS Facilitator Training.
In Spring 2021, the Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health will provide the Sex Education Professional Learning Series (SEPLS), an online training experience designed for educators in grades 5-12 who wish to incorporate sexual health content into an existing health education program. The SEPLS will not train on a specific curriculum or tell educators what to teach but rather will utilize best practices from evidence-informed approaches and will enhance their sexual health knowledge and skills. This FREE six-part series is made possible with funding from the Central Alabama Community Foundation and will be fully accessible online.

The Alabama Campaign has released Module 1 and 2 of the Sex Education Professional Learning Series (SEPLS).

Participants will receive one continuing education unit for each completed SEPLS module. Continuing education units are available for ALSDE educators, and this series is appropriate for any professional who works with young people and who would like to implement sexual health content in their learning environments.

Questions can be directed to
Derek Osborn, CPS CPM is the Asst. Executive Director at Tuscaloosa’s One Place and the Founder/CEO of You can reach him at 
The Social Impasse: How Social Media is Socially Destroying Us
Don’t skip this, even if you think you already know everything about social media and you’ve already watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix (if you haven’t, you should).
About two months ago, I got asked to do a presentation on social media and primarily how it affects teens and pre-teens. I’ve done hundreds of presentations on a variety of topics across the United States that have partially included issues exacerbated by social media, but never presented one that has been solely dedicated to it.
A lot of what I found I already knew such as the fact that we all spend too much time on phones and tablets, especially kids. Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 and its many variants have only made it worse.

Click the link below to read the full article by Derek Osborn.
Children’s Policy Councils 
The Alabama Children’s Policy Council (CPC) system originated from the Alabama Juvenile Justice Coordinating Councils and is designed to support providers of children’s services as they work collaboratively in developing community service plans to address the needs of children ages 0-19 and their families. By creating a CPC in each county, the unique needs of each community can be addressed. At the state level, these local needs become the driving force for children’s policies.

Click the link below to read the full article by Carol Sprayberry.
Carol Sprayberry, M.Ed. is the Assistant Director, East/South Alabama Coordinator at FOCUS. You can reach her at
Alumnus of the Month
Every month we will highlight one of FOCUS' alumni!
Our March Alumnus of the Month is Gabriel Mendez-Frances. Gabriel graduated as Valedictorian of Tarrant High School in 2019. While there, he was an outstanding leader statewide with FOCUS. Gabriel served locally with the Addiction Prevention Coalition’s (APC) Youth Advisory Council student organization called INFOCUS. All these experiences led to him being a well-rounded student unafraid to try something new.

Gabriel is currently a sophomore at the University of Alabama in Huntsville studying Computer Science and Cyber Security. He quickly became involved in student government and now serves as a Senator for the College of Science. As a visually impaired person, his main focus as a student legislator and aspiring professional is to incorporate accessibility into everything he does. He is an advocate for students and hopes to graduate from UAH leaving it a better place than when he arrived.
Become a FOCUS school!
FOCUS is committed to supporting all Alabama schools in implementing studentled prevention of adolescent risk behaviors. Partnerships can be vital in increasing student access to youth-friendly, affordable, local services that could be provided on-site, at a convenient off-site location, or remotely. Visit today to update your school's profile in FOCUS' membership database. Without current information, we are unable to maximize our service to you and keep you informed.


FOCUS values continued partnerships with the following state and community organizations.

Alabama Department of Public Health
Alabama Department of Education
Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health
Addiction Prevention Coalition
Children's Policy Council
Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS)
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
Connect with FOCUS!
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