Editors: The following stories from Associated Press members in Louisiana will move in advance as part of AP's Member Exchange program.
For use in editions of Saturday or Sunday, Sept. 28-29, and thereafter
SPECIAL MARTIAL ARTS
PRAIRIEVILLE — Belinda and Randy Shinn were hoping to find a martial arts class for their 13-year-old son Luke, who has Down syndrome, when they got in touch with a taekwondo studio here. "We just wanted to see if he could fit into the regular class, because he's been interested forever," Belinda said. After talking to the Shinns, Ken Ducote, owner of the Black Dragon Martial Arts studio, and wife Kristine developed a new class: Special Forces. It's specially designed for students ages 10 and up who have Down syndrome or an autism spectrum disorder. By Ellen Couvillion, The Advocate. AP Photos planned.
TEEN LIVESTOCK PRO
SHREVEPORT — At just 16 years old, Sawyer Sloan has already earned the respect of his elders who address him as "Mr. Sloan" at regional livestock auctions. Sawyer is about as laid-back as one would expect from a high school junior, so it's difficult to imagine him going toe-to-toe with men twice his age at an auction. But Sawyer is a business man, and with a herd of over 200 goats and sheep, life on the farm is good. In the fifth grade, Sawyer was bitten by the auction bug after becoming a member of 4-H Club. No one really taught him the ins and outs of the business, but he's picked up enough knowledge to become an experienced buyer and seller. By Devin White, The Times. AP Photo planned.
For use in editions of Monday, Sept. 30, and thereafter
LAFAYATTE — Denver Nobles always had drive. He worked three jobs sometimes. He needed little sleep. But there was more to Nobles' energy than just a strong work ethic. Not until he was in Lafayette 40 years ago, raising a child and trying to support a wife who was going to college, did he learn what it was. The Washington Parish native learned in 1971 that he was manic-depressive, a condition now called bipolar disorder. After more than four decades of coping with the condition — he prefers to call it his "diagnosis" — Nobles works with other people facing the same challenges he has overcome. "God didn't punish me by giving me bipolar disorder," Nobles said in a recent interview. "What he did was allow me to be a person who found his niche by being a people person. It has been a ministry for me." By Bill Decker, The Advertiser. AP Photo planned.
COVINGTON — Abita Brewing Co. is quickly reaching its goal of becoming one of the most energy-efficient breweries in the country as it now is using a 340-panel rooftop solar system to power its brew house. New Orleans-based South Coast Solar installed the new 84-kilowatt photovoltaic system. It is one of the largest commercial solar systems in the state, according to South Coast Solar. "It really fits in to what we do as a brewery - trying to be a good neighbor and a good environmental steward," Abita Beer President David Blossman said. "We think that we have some of the most beautiful environment and nature here, and especially here in Abita Springs." Abita now is one of a handful of breweries across the country using solar technology. Others include Sierra Nevada in Chico, Calif., Arbor Brewing Co. in Michigan and an Anheuser-Busch location in Newark, N.J. By Heather Nolan, The Times-Picayune. AP Photo planned.
— The Associated Press New Orleans