August 15, 2018
Contact: Laura Balthazar
St. Landry-Evangeline Sexual Assault Center
611 E. Prudhomme, Suite 4
Opelousas, LA 70570
STUDENTS PREPARE TO BLAST OFF INTO NEW SCHOOL YEAR
OPELOUSAS— The St. Landry Parish Children and Youth Services (CYS) Planning Board will host the 2017 St. Landry Parish Youth BLAST (Boldly Living As Smart Teens) event to be held Friday, August 24, 2018 at the Yambilee Building in Opelousas, LA from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The St. Landry Parish School District has sanctioned and approved this event that targets 100% (approximately 900 students) of all 7th graders in St. Landry Parish Schools – public, private, and charter. This parish-wide event is a collaborative effort with approximately 25 other non-profit organizations, state agencies, local municipal governments, and businesses.
The Youth BLAST event has received funding from the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health, the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund, the LHC Group, Louisiana Healthcare Connections, United Healthcare, Aetna, Inc.., and the Amerihealth Caritas Louisiana in addition to sponsorships through the St. Landry Parish Government and the CYS Planning Board’s membership. The event brings together music, drama, humor and inspiring speakers to help teens make positive healthy choices. Organizers believe the upbeat atmosphere of this event is an effective means
- To educate teens about the importance of good mental health
- To provide a neutral platform for open dialogue among teens and service providers
- To assist teens in making healthy life choices
- To promote sexual abstinence by presenting current information regarding sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and their impact on teens
- To prevent teen HIV/STD transmission, pregnancy, school drop-out, violence, substance abuse and tobacco
- To raise awareness of Human Sex trafficking
“This year’s event marks the fifth consecutive year of partnering with the St. Landry Parish School District to continue this event that now targets seventh grade students. The original event, established in 2001 as a “Rally”, was known as the “Back-to-School Summit” that targeted eighth grade students. Now, we are hoping to impact a younger audience with the same messages and program package but focusing more on available services that address adolescent developmental needs”, says Laura Balthazar, Executive Director of the St. Landry-Evangeline Sexual Assault Center and Chair of the St. Landry CYS Planning Board.
With funding from the Louisiana State Department of Health and Hospital’s Office of Behavioral Health, the CYS Planning Board is collaborating with the Acadiana Area Human Services District through the Louisiana Partnerships for Success grant to implement the St. Landry (STL) PROUD Coalition which addresses underage drinking and the misuse/abuse of prescriptive drugs. The 2018 Youth BLAST event will be used to further assist the STL PROUD Coalition’s coordinator, Dale Fontenot – co-chair of this year’s BLAST and Program Director for Project HOPE – with the implementation of action plans identified.
Featured speakers and presenters for the event include nationally known motivational speakers such as Rani “Tha Hip Hop Doc” Whitfield, MD, two-time U.S. Olympic high jumper – Hollis Conway, Den Hussey – Lead Pastor of Crossing Place Church, Byron Starks – Champions International and inaugural Head Coach of LSU Eunice’s Men’s Basketball, and the Skittlez and Gravy Brass Band. The Youth BLAST event will also include presentations from Mimi Crown – author and self-proclaimed warrior against human sex trafficking and Holli Conway – Miss Louisiana 2018.
For more information on the Youth BLAST event contact its co-chairs Dale Fontenot at 337-308-7051 or LaVonya Malveaux -Opelousas City Court at 337-948-2570 ext. 101.