LSC graduates combating dangerous apps, sex trafficking

From left, Leadership Shelby County graduate Jeff Bradley receives his diploma from Bridgette Jordan Smith as Jim Sumpter and Tom Sanders look on. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

From left, Leadership Shelby County graduate Jeff Bradley receives his diploma from Bridgette Jordan Smith as Jim Sumpter and Tom Sanders look on. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

HOOVER – For Leadership Shelby County class of 2016 representative Mechelle Wilder and her classmates, the past nine months have been about making a mark not only in Shelby County, but across the world.

“We can all do many great things, but only if we work together. We have learned how to trust each other, strategize and achieve a worthy goal,” Wilder said during the class’s graduation ceremony on May 10 at Jefferson State Community College off Valleydale Road. “We are prepared to go out from here and leave a lasting mark on this world that cannot be ignored.”

For the past several months, the class has split into groups to complete community service projects, has learned about nearly ever aspect of Shelby County and has learned how to most effectively address the county’s needs.

During the graduation ceremony, the class members showcased their community service projects before becoming the newest alumni of the longstanding LSC program.

In addition to honoring this year’s LSC graduates, the event also celebrated the $2,500 scholarship recipients from this year’s 2016 Youth Leadership class. Scholarship recipients were Allison Pittman from Evangel Christian School, Peyton Strickland from Pelham High School and Luke Walker from Chelsea High School.

This year’s LSC graduates completed several projects aimed at bettering the community. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

This year’s LSC graduates completed several projects aimed at bettering the community. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

This year’s LSC members completed the following community service projects through the LSC program:

-Project group one created a video for the Blanket Fort Hope organization, which seeks to combat sex trafficking throughout Alabama. The video was filmed in Alabaster, and depicts the dangers of sex trafficking and demonstrates the methods predators often use to victimize children. The group is planning to provide the video to local school systems to help make the community more aware of these dangers.

-Project group two created a campaign called “#inAPPropriate,” which seeks to educate parents about dangerous smartphone apps their children may be using. Group member Craig Gray said 64 percent of teens regularly receive text messages from people they don’t know, and said 20 percent of teens say they have been bullied online. Through the program, the group members are working to educate parents of the dangers of apps such as Oovoo, Blendr, Calculator% and Chat Roulette. The group has created a Facebook group called “Inappropriateawareness” to keep parents informed.

-Project group three worked to support Kids First Awareness Community Center in Alabaster, which is an after-school program for at-risk students. In addition to volunteering many hours at the center, the group members held several meetings with the kids at the center, covering topics such as teamwork, bullying and financial literacy.

-Project group four focused its efforts on supporting the Wings of Hope Pediatric Foundation, which supports local families of children who are battling terminal illnesses. Wings of Hope helps families with things such as cooking, lawn care, housekeeping and more. The LSC project group made a video promoting Wings of Hope, updated the nonprofit’s legal corporate paperwork, created marketing and social media plans and more.

This year’s LSC class members were Josh Cothran, David Higgins, Samantha Rush, Jeff Bradley, Jennifer Maier, Kim Egan, Rhett McCreight, Adam Moseley, Wade Walker, Emmanuel Scozzaro, Dana Harmon, Casey Bentley, Leonard Speed, Meagan Mims Barton, Tim Alexander, Scott Brakefield, Thomas Rary, Craig Gray, Gina Pearce and Shelli Thomason.

Other class members were David Hoyle, Stan Brown, Larry Palmer, Michael Cain, Jeff Hartley, Monique Shorts, Brian Lee, Mechelle Wilder, Lauren Nichols, Mark Boardman, Alicia Anger, Carolyn Fortner, Jeff King, Jonathon Burton, Laura Kleckley, Chuck Purvus, Tery Young and Jeff Brown.