FOCUS Monthly Newsletter
March 2022
National Drug and Alcohol Prevention Week
March 21-27
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According to a data study from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 50% of adolescents will struggle with a mental health disorder. This growing issue of mental health among middle school and high school-age students presents an opportunity for student-led organizations to step up and create awareness in their schools and communities alike.

The Chelsea High School Peer Helpers/FOCUS recently hosted a Mental Health Week on February 14-18, 2022 where they hosted several activities throughout the week to promote openness, self-awareness, and mindfulness to the students of Chelsea High School. Before each day of the week, announcements were read sharing quotes and describing the activities available during the hour-long lunch period, halftime. The students were engaged and participated in the following education and prevention activities:

February 14: Self-love Day (Valentines Day)

Throughout various halls of the school, posters were filled with sticky notes encouraging students to “take what you need.” The sticky notes had various positive messages and affirmations; some had drawings that would bring joy to those who wanted them!

February 15: Mental Health Panel (Openness Day)

During lunch period, seven peer helpers (Josh Baskaran, Sydney Bridgeman, Ahamed Diallo, Lilly Dong, Sage Hubert, Dani Thompson, Charlie Williams) hosted a panel where they discussed their own various struggles with mental health and left the floor open to anyone else who wanted to share. With school counselor Kadrian Delaine, they answered questions those who attended had about their experiences.

February 16: Mindfulness Day

One of Chelsea High’s science teachers, Robert Kirk, is known to host in-class mindfulness sessions, so we invited him to host a session during our lunch period where anyone was welcome. Students of all grade levels participated in his session.

February 17: Self-Awareness Day

During our lunch period, we invited a yoga instructor to lead a session in the gym to promote awareness of one’s own body. This session was a success in bringing peace to many who participated!

February 18: Mental Health Fair (Spreading Awareness Day)

The Peer Helpers have hosted the Mental Health Fair a few times; this allows students to see many organizations who deal with different aspects of mental health. During this fair, we hosted six organizations during our lunch period: Magnolia Creek (eating disorder awareness), Magic City Acceptance Center (LGBTQ+ awareness), Crisis Center (sexual violence prevention), ALSANA (eating disorder treatment center), Compact 2020 (substance abuse prevention), and FOCUS. Each had a table in our school’s lobby and interacted with students to teach them about each of their causes. This mental health fair was our most successful one yet!

We hope this article has inspired you to host a Mental Health Week at your school or community!

Submitted by:
Charlie Williams
Chelsea High School 
Congratulations to Rylee Speed, winner of the door prize
at the Chelsea High School Mental Health Fair!
2022 Difference Maker Award
NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN for the 2022 "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 23, 2022.

Click the button below for more information or to nominate a Difference Maker!
Alumnus of the Month
Every month we will highlight
one of FOCUS' alumni!
Talaija “Putt” Smith
March FOCUS Alumnus of the Month

Talaija “Putt” Smith, a 2020 graduate of Aliceville High School, is in her second year at Bevill State Community College majoring in business education. She assisted the FOCUS program while in high school by disseminating information on bullying, suicide, and social media safety. Information/flyers were handed out to individuals at school and after school functions. In addition, when the pandemic hit, students received related information via GroupMe, school packages, and Schoology. “I do this because I want youth and young adults to be safe and to keep our community safe,” Talaija said. She has excelled academically by maintaining a 3.5 GPA while in college. Her future aspiration is to transfer to The University of Alabama and study business.
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Monthly Health Observances
We encourage all FOCUS schools to engage in at least one health observance activity each month. Each month has some excellent choices for students on your campuses to “Make a Difference” and to encourage their peers to participate.


  • 1-30: Alcohol Awareness Month
  • 1-30: National Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • 1-30: National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
  • 1-30: Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
  • 1-30: Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Month
  • 8-12: National Youth Violence Prevention Week
  • 10: National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
  • 15: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day


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