Rashad Jones to speak at Brazen Bash

Free event on June 30 is for youth ages 11 to 18.

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Posted June 10, 2022 | By Susan Smiley-Height

Rashad Jones [Courtesy of Bill Thompson/DOH-Marion]

The theme of the upcoming Brazen Bash is “Reaching for the Top.” And who better to share that message than Ocala’s own Rashad Jones, owner of Big Lee’s Serious About BBQ restaurants and a star of the Food Network.

BRAZEN is the sexual risk avoidance program in the health education branch of the Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion). The positive youth development program educates various audiences, primarily youth, about healthy decision making with a goal of building awareness, character and self-confidence.

The Brazen Bash, which is free for attendees, will include a rock-climbing wall, obstacle course, bungee run and more. Participants will be treated to food, music and giveaways. Summer camp programs are encouraged to attend.

Jones will anchor the bash and share how he rose from homeless teenager to award-winning restaurateur. And how, before he became a celebrated pitmaster and restaurant owner, he developed the BRAZEN program and managed it for eight years, during which he served as a mentor and motivational speaker.

“I’ve been very fortunate in having a lot of success in what I do right here in Ocala. And a big part of that success comes from really having a clear-cut vision for your life, your choices, your future — really knowing what you’re aiming for,” Jones said in a prepared statement.

The BRAZEN program, he said, was founded on the idea of helping our community’s youth make “smart, healthy decisions.”

“Brazen Bash is going to be exciting. You don’t want to miss it,” he said. “You’re going to learn how to make some amazing choices in life, and you’re going to learn how to aim for the top.”

The BRAZEN program makes presentations to middle and high school students, youth groups, at-risk youth and adult and parent groups. Topics include goals and dreams, decision making, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, social media and substance abuse. 

BRAZEN Health Education Program Consultant Quameshia Townsend has been with the program for three years. She first encountered the program in 2010, when she was a student at Forest High School.

“The benefits are phenomenal. The program equips students with factual information while helping them find themselves and their beliefs. It is a very holistic approach to the youth that leaves them feeling informed and empowered,” she said.

“Youth should attend our Brazen Bash on June 30 because it will be lots of fun! Youth will also learn pertinent information in regard to goal setting and setting themselves up for a successful future,” she added. 

The Brazen Bash is for youth ages 11 to 18. It will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 30 at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion, 2232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala. 

For more information, visit brazenbash.org or find Brazen Bash on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. You also can call DOH-Marion at 352-644-2687.