Student Programs is by far one of APC’s largest prevention initiatives. We host peer led, adult supervised student groups in local high schools called INFOCUS groups. Students gather during club time or before /after school to discuss and educate each other on information surrounding drugs and alcohol and also the catalyst issues that lead to substance use and abuse in adolescents. We provide a safe space for the students to talk about what is going on in their lives. This approach to prevention removes the taboo nature of addiction and allows students to have a safe place to learn about substance use and mental health. Each INFOCUS group has an school teacher or counselor connected. In addition to all of their other responsibilities, the adult leaders are also willing to invest time and energy to the growth and healthy development of students.
One of APC’s George Washington Carver High School teachers is Mrs. Tarithia Bracy who has worked as a teacher for 25 years and with INFOCUS and APC for 7 of those years. Not only does she teach health to high school students, but this exceptional leader volunteers her time to facilitate the INFOCUS meetings. Mrs. Bracy highlights the importance of the INFOCUS meetings in saying, “It helps them [the students] take a more positive role among their peers. They are going out now and they are educating…They can reach their peers more than we can because their peers listen to them.” Peer to peer influence is a large component to the prevention of substance abuse in high school and college. INFOCUS not only provide monthly meetings, but also leadership opportunities, seminars, and external resources. The topics covered in meetings and seminars include but are not limited to types of drugs and their effects, stress, anxiety and depression, vaping, drinking and driving, suicide prevention, bullying, sex trafficking, and COVID-19. Mrs. Bracy mentions that, while these necessary conversations are being held, many students have opened up about family members who suffer from substance use disorders. The INFOCUS groups provide a healthy environment to discuss and process the effects of these issues.
Mrs. Bracy’s dedication to the holistic health of her students is apparent in the way she dedicates her time and resources. Her love for her students is exemplified in her nomination for the Difference Maker Award in 2020. This award recognizes the most outstanding educator involved with FOCUS in the state of Alabama. This award highlights the enthusiasm, dedication, and leadership of the program that targets adolescent prevention in their schools. It is with this honor that Mrs. Bracy received a $1,000 cash, a trophy, and a framed certificate. An individual speaking about the award nomination says, “Mrs. Bracy is an amazing, loving, inspiring, trusting, and caring leader. She will always go above and beyond in order to ensure that others are okay and that they get the help they need… I’m honored to not only have her as a teacher, and a leader, but a role model as well.” APC is grateful to partner with teachers who care deeply for their students and seek their holistic health.
We love and are so grateful for our volunteer leaders like Ms. Bracy. We could not do the work that we do without the sacrificial work of passionate people around Birmingham who are committed to our mission of prevention substance use disorder, especially in our youth! Thank you, Mrs. Bracy for all you do for our students!