Stephens County Youth Services "Kaleidoscope"

The aim of Stephens County Youth Services is to get 'em while they're young.  That's why 7th graders there have gone through "Kaleidoscope" for 17 years.  Youth Services would like to believe it's made a difference in young people's lives.  It's a two day conference for middle schoolers, going through what organizers call "The Many Colors of Life".

Kaleidoscope doesn't pull any punches.  They cover topics such as sex, drugs and dating; the three main things that these kids will be facing soon, if not already.  That's why this program tries to arm the kids with the ability to make good decisions.

Dennis Lee believes that laughter is the best medicine - so, that's how he conveys his message.  He has spent most of his life making people laugh through his kaleidoscope of characters as a ventriloquist.  He's been at it for 34 years and on Friday, gave his audience a good dose of laughter with a message behind it.  He says being successful in life is like maintaining a vehicle.  "You have to fuel it, fix it, etc."

It's just a tool.  To be able to teach kids to make good choices and we do it through.  We told the story of the 3 little pigs in a way that seventh graders like and we kind of spice it up with some of their cultural people that they know," says Lee.

John Herdt with Youth Services of Stephens County says 7th Grade is the best time to drive this message home.  "We just felt that was the age that most susceptible about a lot of things.  We just felt that that was a good age to target," he says.  And, organizers are saying the best thing about this event is getting the kids reactions and hearing the success stories.  They say it's extraordinary.

Nearly a thousand 7th Graders from Stephens, Cotton and Jefferson Counties participated in the event.  And, the Kaleidoscope T-shirts designed for the event were designed by one of the students.  Brittany, from Duncan Middle School, won the art contest out of hundreds of entries.