Thursday, March 13, 2008
Workshop educates young people on healthy choices
By SUE WATSON
Students from junior high and high schools in the county attended a healthy lifestyles program at Rust College February 29.
The program was sponsored by the Booneville School District Aiming for Abstinence project and was organized, in part, by Carolyn Gowen’s healthy marriage initiative, an educational program that teaches youth the key elements for building healthy relationships.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry helped launch the program with a welcome for the school districts participating - Marshall County, Marshall Academy and the Holly Springs School Districts.
There was a lot of school pride shown as superintendents, principals and other leaders personally supported the program with their presence and words.
First to speak was Irene Walton, superintendent of Holly Springs School District.
“We believe education includes teaching about health,” she said. “The generation today may be the first generation to not outlive their parents. We believe health is an academic issue.”
Headmaster Jane Hubbard with Marshall Academy expressed appreciation for her school’s invitation to participate in the initiative.
Potts Camp principal Tim Carter echoed her remarks, saying his school’s leadership believes in healthy choices and doing healthy things.
“I’m proud of my kids,” he said.
Next up was guest speaker Roderick Glover who offered a mix of entertainment and straight talk about alcohol, drugs, and sex.
From the inner city of Detroit, Michigan, Glover said, “I’ve found out life will throw you some blows unexpectedly. Some times you think you are doing great and an obstacle comes in your path.”
His central them was that a person has to love and respect themselves to ward off unhealthy pressures from peers to do things that will lead to great harm.
“You have to watch the choices you make,” he said. “You are the director and the light in you is both negative and positive. What’s in you is going to come out. The choices you make today will dictate your destiny.”
Glover said each is responsible for finding out what he needs to change within himself, and not waste effort on focusing on mom, dad, teacher, or grandmother.
“Do not buy in to what people say to you or about you,” he said. “There’s something up there in the Universe to glorify you in your heart and you find there is something that needs changing. Sometimes it’s your friends who are going to destroy your life. That’s the negative spirit.
“If people can’t love you for who you are, you don’t need them. You need to cut them off.”
Glover said he eventually made it out of the “hoods” to college and it was there he received the education he deserved and met his future wife. But what really changed him was realization that he could and did love himself.
“One day I said I love myself, and it changed my life forever,” he said. “Love is sacrificing what your flesh wants for what’s best for you.
“It’s all about being great at being you. Accept your greatness and don’t be ashamed at being great.”
Next up were members of the Community Art Builders in their second educational series on African American Writers, arranged by Autry Davis.
Mary Dilworth, James Walker, Edwina Taylor and Davis read poetry and writings and sang songs celebrating Black History Month.
Former state inmate Richard Martin finished the program with a story about how he let greed lure him into a life of crime (money laundering).
Some thoughts he had before talking the detour to prison were about dropping out of school, hanging out with the wrong crowd, resisting authority, and a belief he could get by in life without hard work, he said.
Ninety-eight percent of the prison population are sent to prison for using and selling drugs and living the low life, he said.
Martin said he was a promising athlete and average kid in the days when boys were shy.
He attended Jackson State two years then transferred to Mississippi State and then was drafted by the Washington Bullets which sent him overseas to Athens, Greece.
He was injured and came home early.
“So, I had to fall back on my education,” he said. He secured a job with an accounting firm in Jackson and was lured into a money laundering scheme by an acquaintance who wanted $5 million a week in drug money washed.
“It was something I didn’t need but it was so tempting,” he said.
After the IRS knocked on his door, Martin admitted to his wrongdoings and was sentenced to 30 years in Parchman which he called “the big house.”
He said life in jails outside the penitentiary are sugar-coated.
“There’s another side of life, a real hell. Parchman,” he said. “I was riding the white horse to hell and I didn’t even know it.
In Parchman, Camp A, Martin said he called on God and promised to go anywhere to warn people not to go down that road.
“I thank God to be able to tell y’all how God brought me out of the lion’s den,” he said.
“In there (prison) you don’t have to pay for anything. You do lose things, like your dignity.”
Jail-house religion is for real, he said.
He told students that being in a gang is a wrong choice.
“Disobeying your parents and your grandmother is wrong,” he said. “I got all my waking up at once, laying on an iron bed 24 years.
Martin said he has a beautiful life now and treasures the small things in life. He has been blessed with a loving wife for three years.
He entered prison in 1981 and was released June 30, 2005. Today he is 55 years old.
He urged all students to graduate on time and to become doctors, lawyers and to exercise their brains. He warned youth to not take ‘gangsta’ rap music seriously, saying most of those who rap about killing are not killers. Very few are criminals who go to jail, he said.
“Why go to a cemetery because you lost your point fighting about nothing?” he asked. “Lots of businessmen, doctors and lawyers are in prison.”
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