Scottie Bolden of Hillsboro grew up in Lawrence County. He remembers all the temptations he faced as a high school student. He knows that making the right decision is not easy.
As a parent he worried about his own children facing the challenges of growing up in today's world.
Through his group '517 Ministries', Bolden is reaching out to kids all across the area to help them understand the consequences of wrong decisions.
Bolden began working with youngsters as a part-time youth minister at Wheeler Chapel Church. The position turned into full-time eight years ago. As he worked with children, he began to explore the issues kids deal with in schools.
"Kids are dealing with bullying, fits of anger, sexual activity and drugs everyday," Bolden said. "I want to help them make the right choices."
He knows that teenagers run of emotions much of the time and they do not have the maturity to deal with their problems. Slowly he began to develop a program at Wheeler Chapel using short skits followed up with a question and answer session.
The teenagers who attended Wheeler Chapel began bringing in friends to see the skits and participate in the discussions. Bolden saw how he could reach out past his church to teenagers all across Lawrence County.
"The visiting kids got excited about the program and asked me to speak at their schools," he said.
The skits are designed as drama to make the message more real. He uses a seven-member team and sometimes pulls in students or teachers from the school he is visiting. He did his first school skit program for students at the Lawrence County Center of Technology in 2005.
Although he has presented his program at several Lawrence County schools, this is the first year he has officially worked with the school system. This school year, he had a contract with the Lawrence County Board of Education to present his program at all middle schools and high schools in the county.
He was excited to work with the school system. He has taken program to many Lawrence County churches but he knows that not all children attend church. Being in the schools brings him into contact with more kids facing difficult decisions.
While his ministry is faith-based, it is not faith oriented.
"I don't preach to the kids," he said. "We use the dramas to reach them about everyday problems."
He understands how hard it is for children today and the pressure they are under to conform.
"I see a lack of respect among kids for others and especially for poorer children," Bolden said. He works to help kids see the value of everyone.
Bolden said the biggest problem kids face is drug use. He knows kids can easily find drugs today. Kids often make the wrong decisions in an attempt to fit in. Bullying plays a hand in the mix. He knows that kids can be bullied into doing things they don't want to do just to fit in.
He also knows that kids often do not speak out after they see one his skits. But he knows the message gets across.
"The kids send me letters about how the program helped them," Bolden said. "They come up to me almost everyplace I go. I was in Gulf Shores and a kid came up to tell me how the program helped him."
The skits are not dull morality plays. Bolden makes the skits with humor and fun and at a fast pace.
Bolden knows that some decisions kids make today cannot be reversed. Other bad choices will plague kids for years. His program is aimed at arming kids with information about making the right decisions today so they don't have to try to make it right as adults.