FVSU and Hodac offer reality check to middle grade students

 May 3, 2013 –Middle Georgia students received valuable advice from prevention experts designed to help middle schoolers make responsible choices and continue on the path toward success. The Reality Check Teen Health Forum was held May 1 in Fort Valley State University’s Health and Physical Education Complex. More than 2,500 students attended the event, co-sponsored by FVSU, area schools and Houston County’sHodac, Inc. – an education, prevention and intervention services organization.
“The purpose of today’s event is to reach out to help educate young people to make better decisions about their health and life,” said Ron Wilson, director of special programs with the Houston County School System.
Heather Carr, a prevention coordinator for Hodac, said that this was the first time the event has been held on FVSU’s campus. The Middle Georgia area has been hosting the reality check event since 1989 for eighth graders in Houston, Peach and Crawford counties and several private schools.
“We’re trying to keep students from starting risky behaviors,” said Carr. “We don’t want them to end up in relationships that can be abusive, or use alcohol or illegal drugs. So, we’re giving this information to head some of these behaviors off at the pass.”
Experts discussed the importance of exercising smarter choices within their personal lives and relationships.
Dr. Harold Katner, an AIDS specialist, spoke about his work with patients who have contracted the virus. He outlined ways children become infected with HIV, including intimate sexual contact, contaminated needles, blood transfusions and mother-to-child transmission. Katner also recounted a heart-breaking story of a young, 13-year-old girl who contracted the virus after being sexually abused. “I’m not here to scare you; I’m here to provide information to educate you and save your lives,” said the physician.
Marc Fomby, chief executive officer of FTC Prevention Services, spoke to students about messages within commercials and music, which sometimes encourage alcohol use.
“Our kids are being inundated with messages about drinking, drug use and sex, without being told about the consequences,” said Fomby, who also wanted students to master media literacy by decoding negative messages found in music.
J. D. Collins, a Macon Judicial Circuit special investigator, lectured about the dangers of domestic violence, and the importance of keeping healthy relationships with friends and romantic interests.
Donald Moore, director of the HPE Complex, said the event was a wonderful way to arm students with health information and helped them see the future awaiting them after middle and high school.
 “Normally, it’s held at the Perry Fairgrounds every year,” said Moore. “This is the first time it was held on FVSU’s campus. It helped expose kids to college life and our university’s campus.”
Christina D. Milton,writer
Fort Valley State University 
Office of Marketing and Communications
(478) 822-7589, miltonc@fvsu.edu