St. Charles Parish students will learn dangers of social media, bullying at first parish youth rally

Door prizes include signed footballs, iPad

August 08, 2014 at 9:18 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Nearly 400 students are expected to attend a youth rally in Luling to hear from motivational speakers and learn about the dangers of social media and bullying.
Nearly 400 students are expected to attend a youth rally in Luling to hear from motivational speakers and learn about the dangers of social media and bullying.
For the first time, hundreds of students from across St. Charles Parish will gather at a youth rally to hear about the importance of education, the negative effects of bullying and the dangers of social media.

The parish’s Department of Community Services, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Alpha Daughters of Zion joined together for the event, which will be held on Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center in Luling. Along with the important lessons taught, the children and teens will also get the chance to win an iPad, footballs signed by NFL players and other door prizes. A rap gospel group will perform and food will be provided for the attendees.

Joan Diaz, the director of the Department of Community Services for St. Charles Parish, expects nearly 400 students at the youth rally.

“The theme is aspire, acquire and achieve,” Diaz said. “We want to show them how to aspire to be the best person you can be and acquire the skills to handle yourself and face the challenges in life that will allow you to have the freedom and decision making to achieve your goals.”

Diaz said the event will simulate a mini festival. It will open with a message from a key speaker at 12:30 p.m. before the students break into separate sessions dealing with social media, conflict resolution and education.

“They are going to travel to different workshops where they will have short segments on key issues like social media, social issues in the world, bullying, conflict resolution and a common sense parenting session,” Diaz said.

The goal of the program is to show students how to use good judgement, teach them how to walk away from a bad situation and show them the importance of living beyond a peer group.

“We are just trying to generate positive energy to promote a strong self-awareness and good decision making,” she said. “We want them to know that we are here to offer them a support system.”

Sgt. Roanne Sampson, with the Sheriff’s Office, said that social media can be more dangerous than most students realize.

“They are given these technical devices and some of them are not utilizing them correctly,” she said. “Some use social media to bully others and some are posting inappropriate pictures of themselves and friends and they don’t think they can get into trouble, but they can.

“Once something goes online, it is there forever.”

All students who attend will receive goodie bags and have a chance to win door prizes that include an iPad, New Orleans Zephyrs baseball tickets and footballs signed by NFL players Ryan Clark, Ed Reed, Darius Reynaud, Dawan Landry and Corey Webster. LSU gear and school supplies will also be offered as door prizes.

“We are targeting school-age kids up to high school. We are hoping to attract middle and high school students because that’s the age when they face a lot of these issues,” Diaz said.

Students must register for the youth rally, but Diaz said registration will be available on site. Because of the large response so far, with nearly 400 students expected on Saturday, Diaz said there are already plans to make the rally an annual event.

“This is a great event and it will only get bigger as we go on,” she said.

For more information, contact Diaz at (985) 764-7944.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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