FOCUS Monthly Newsletter
October 2023

The 2023 FOCUS Rally Was Unforgettable!

Over 650 participants from 28 schools joined us in the hills of Shocco Springs at the annual FOCUS Rally! Hewitt Trussville High School kicked off the opening session, and Ray Hammett recognized FOCUS facilitators and administrators. Jonathan Thompson brought greetings from the Alabama State Department of Education, and the 2023 FOCUS Difference Maker of the Year, Emily Herring of Fairfield City Schools, was recognized. 

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This is Mental Illness Awareness Week - a time to raise awareness of mental illness, fight discrimination and provide support to those in need.

October 6 is National Depression Screening Day

Like any other health screening --- such as those for cancer and diabetes --- depression screening should be a routine part of healthcare.

Clinical depression is a serious medical illness that affects millions of Americans each year. It can occur alongside other medical conditions, often complicating them further. Many people dismiss the symptoms of depression as a "normal" part of their life, and only about a third of those who suffer from it seek professional help.

Learn More About Screening Day

New Resources for November's Vaping Prevention Month

The FOCUS Rally hosted two breakout sessions on the Vaping Crisis presented by Robyn Gray. Robyn is a public health research and education consultant. Her most recent work has included research, education, and political advocacy focused on addressing the youth vaping crisis. Robyn has a Bachelor of Science in School Health Education and a Master Of Public Health in Community Health Sciences. She is an NCHEC Certified Health Education Specialist.

At the 2023 FOCUS Rally, Robyn shared with adults and students. She has graciously shared her presentation slides with us and both presentations are now available on the Facilitator Portal found on our website at Use your facilitator password received when you registered as a FOCUS school to access the presentations and other valuable resources. 

FOCUS is partnering with the American Lung Association to promote the "End the Youth Vaping Epidemic".  The American Lung Association's initiative to end the youth vaping epidemic launched on September 1, 2020, with an integrated, multicomponent approach to support parents, schools and students. 

Awareness Campaign-#DoTheVapeTalk is a youth vaping prevention campaign to provide parents with a simple roadmap to address the dangers of vaping. The campaign offers free educational resources including a conversation guide on the website,

Register Your School with FOCUS!

This will allow you access to our many resources and enable you to begin your “focus” on next year’s concerns for your students and campus. Having your school registered and students recruited before a new school year begins is half the battle of “Making a Difference” in your school and community.
Register Your School

New! 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline!

988 is now the active phone number that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This shorter number is easier to remember, and it provides free and confidential support for anyone in distress.
Be sure to share this updated information with staff and students in your school and community. Let everyone know that when they call, text or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors who will listen and help, 24/7. They will even assist you if you know of someone who is in distress. This can be reassuring when you are trying to assist a student or peer and need professional help.
*The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-TALK) will always remain available for people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.

Connect with FOCUS!

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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   Vaping Prevention Month
  • 15       Great American Smokeout


  • 1        World AIDS Day
  • 2-8     National Handwashing Awareness Week (Henry the Hand Foundation)


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

Alabama Department of Public Health

Alabama Department of Education

Addiction Prevention Coalition

Children's Policy Council

Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS)

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama

Be Part of Making A Difference!
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