FOCUS Monthly Newsletter
April 2023
2023 Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day (YHAAD) 
FOCUS and Health Services Center are partnering to bring awareness to the prevention of HIV among youth. April 10, 2023, is a day to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people. An updated digital resource guide is available on website. Go to the bottom of the Home Page and click on FOCUS Facilitator Login. There is a Resource Guide, HIV 101 video, and a Google Slide Presentation to assist with educating youth in grades 7-12. 

The Health Services Center will be providing marketing items, while they last, to promote awareness of HIV. Contact if you are interested. 

Follow @AlabamaFocus on all social media accounts for prevention messages. If your school cannot participate on April 10, select another date later in the month for this important health observance. 
Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (YHAAD), annually on April 10th, is a day to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people. The day also highlights the HIV prevention, treatment, and care campaigns of young people in the U.S. Today’s young people are the first generation who have never known a world without HIV and AIDS. The CDC reports that in 2019, youth aged 13 to 24 made up 21% of new HIV diagnoses in the United States (US) and dependent areas. CDC data from that same year reports, for every 100 people with HIV ages 13-24, 56 knew their HIV reports. Additionally, young people living with HIV are the least likely of any age group to be retained in care and have a suppressed viral load. Addressing the impact of HIV on young people requires they have access to affirming, culturally competent, and medically accurate resources, and tools.

To assist you and your students, FOCUS is providing the Resource Guide linked below to implement this important event.
2023 FOCUS Rally!
2023 Difference Maker Award
NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN for the 2023 "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 22, 2023.

Click the button below for more information or to nominate a Difference Maker!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we are excited to highlight a project shared with us by FOCUS and Peer Helpers from Calera High School. Under the direction of their sponsor, Melissa Copes, after studying the alarming statistics of youth mental health, they decided to take action by hosting a school-wide mental health fair. They worked diligently to plan the event that included booths, activities and guest speakers. Students Tamyrah Hughes and Kefir Emery shared that the Peer Helpers worked in small groups to prepare the booths for presentations on topics such as anxiety, grief and bullying.

Prior to the mental health fair, there was an assembly featuring Reggie Parker, CEO of Parker Counseling and Consulting, LLC and a Certified Hostage Negotiator with over 25 years experience with the Hoover Police Department. He spoke about anxiety management. According to Tamyrah and Kefir, the important takeaway from the assembly was that “anxiety is something everybody struggles with to varying degrees, and learning how to deal with it allows people to live a life without having to worry about being hindered by anxiety. Mr. Parker spoke to us about the stigma surrounding mental health and how we shouldn’t make others feel ashamed or excluded because of the mental health problems they endure.”

After the assembly, students rotated to various booths and activities. According to Calera Peer Helpers, they planned therapy booths where students participated in yoga and met therapy dogs brought by Hand in Paw. In addition, said Tamyrah Hughes and Kefir Emery, “to lighten the mood of the fair, we included a photo booth and a balloon activity. This allowed students to take fun pictures featuring FOCUS posters and allowed students to pop balloons to find a single question inside to interact with others.

Calera Peer Helpers made quite a positive impact on their student body with their mental health fair, and encourage all FOCUS schools to consider planning one as well. Tamyrah and Kefir said it best when they stated that “mental health is a universal issue that should be talked about. Bringing awareness to uncomfortable topics is important for the evolution of today’s society”. Peer Helpers are looking forward to bringing forth more projects in the future to not only uplift the student body at Calera High, but also to teach life lessons so anyone may make an impact on someone else.
Membership Drive
March/April is FOCUS membership drive for 2023-24 school year.

Sign-up members, select leadership positions, and promote collecting dues to include Rally deposit ($30 will be due no later than September 13).
Even though it is only March 2023, it is time to plan for the Fall of 2023 and next school year. The spring semester brings class scheduling for students, so you should also schedule plans for FOCUS for next year. Typically, some of the strongest leaders in FOCUS will be the seniors; therefore, Membership Drive in the spring semester is vital to recruit new members who are passionate about FOCUS. Then, begin training them to become those leaders of tomorrow. The facilitator portal has an Extracurricular Guide for more details of implementing FOCUS that contains two membership application forms that can be used–one is general (page 7); the other is more detailed and specific (page 8).

Once the new members are selected, schedule a meeting with the new and returning FOCUS members to map out a plan and a vision for your particular school/campus needs in the areas of education and prevention. Throughout next school year, encourage monthly health observances and other events or activities to bring awareness to the entire student body. Put those ideas on your calendar. It is your FOCUS students who have the power to change the climate of a school for the better.

Organization is the key to success! Select officers and allow the students to choose areas of interest or expertise in the FOCUS Committees (Peer Helper/Educator, Drama/Video/Skit, Public Relations/Publicity, Fundraising, Community Service, and/or Technology/Social Media). All of these committees play an important role in getting the FOCUS message conveyed, and all of your students have strengths that can be utilized in one or more of these committees. 

Begin preparing for the September 20, FOCUS Rally at Shocco Springs. Inform your students, get your needed paperwork completed either before the end of school or at the very beginning of the school year in August. Figure out how you will fund the field trip (LEA source, students pay, fundraise, etc.). Planning ahead is always good!! Let’s make 2023-2024 the best year yet for FOCUS–it all starts with you!!

Planning an Event Project?
Teaching students the planning process necessary in implementing prevention activities is an important step in project-based learning. 

We have added a helpful form on the FOCUS facilitator portal page. Check it out! Here’s the link to the our website, scroll down and click on the FOCUS facilitator login page. Use your facilitator password to access this new resource. Click on the "FOCUS Event Project Plan" to view out newest resource!
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.
A new FOCUS student brochure is now available!
Free hard copies are available by request! Email to place your order. A digital copy is available for printing on the FOCUS Facilitator Portal.
Connect with FOCUS!
Stay up to date on everything that is happening with FOCUS by following us on social media! Don't hesitate, follow us today!
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.

  • 1-31  Hepatitis Awareness Month
  • 1-31  Mental Health Month
  • 1-31   Skin Cancer Prevention Month
  • 1-31  National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month
  • 31       World No Tobacco Day


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!