Educators use Break the Grey program to help to teenagers - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Educators use Break the Grey program to help to teenagers

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Author, singer, speaker, and ex-convict Bill Ballenger tries to keep teenage stresses from leading the wrong way. Author, singer, speaker, and ex-convict Bill Ballenger tries to keep teenage stresses from leading the wrong way.
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Tennessee Valley educators are considering an emotional appeal to area teenagers to steer them away from some very wrong tracks. An ex-convict who fought his way back to becoming a youth counselor is offering his own painful life lessons and hoping kids will listen.

17-year-old Hannah McMillan feels the anxieties many teenagers do. Extremes like drinking and drug abuse may be something she encounters more in movies or lectures than in person, but the stress is there.

"It's pressure," said McMillan. "It's kind of difficult trying to decide what you want to do with your whole life right now when you're just 17."

Author, singer, speaker, and ex-convict Bill Ballenger tries to keep those stresses from leading the wrong way.

"A lot of students identify with the environment around them," Ballenger said. "A certain crowd of students, a certain crowd of people, not realizing that sometimes those decisions, trying to identify with that certain crowd could be the death of you."

Ballenger's "Break the Grey" program of school assemblies starring him, couples with more personal contact with his staff of young interns who offer struggling teenagers peers to help them open up, tackle their demons, and make better choices.

"Because we are their age, so it's like ‘oh man, they're relatable. I can talk to them.' They'll understand," said intern Rachael Phillips.

"This allows a person to maybe shake the kids up, and allow them to talk about things they wouldn't necessarily open up to other people about," said Huntsville School Board President David Blair.

Blair also said the Area Schools Foundation may want to bring one of Ballenger's assemblies to town, especially if it can open up the lines of communication to area kids. "You don't ever necessarily have stuff that stays behind, and that's what we kind of see with this. It looks like they build a network of the kids and the interns."

The Break the Grey organization is planning on a series of its assemblies in the Huntsville area in the last week of April, with whichever schools and school systems are interested in participating.

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