Health fair teaches students how to say no to tobacco

Posted March 08, 2011, at 11:32 a.m.

BELFAST — Fourth- and fifth-grade classes in RSU 20 in the Belfast area recently attended a districtwide health fair, Tobacco Free…A Passport to Health, designed to increase self-esteem and refusal skills.

The second annual fair was based on the tobacco-drug unit from the Great Body Shop curriculum used in the school. During the day, students visited stations that focused on ways to make healthy choices. The stations were focused around the health effects of tobacco, addiction, tobacco advertising, second- and third-hand smoke and smokeless tobacco, and were meant to empower students through music and raising self-esteem through art.

The event was organized by RSU 20, Waldo County YMCA and Healthy Waldo County, with assistance from Athena Health, Hannaford Bros. and Organic Valley. Students attended for one day with the fair running for three days to accommodate all the students.

Linda Hartkopf, RSU 20 school health coordinator, said, “The timing for the fair is perfect. Recently, reports were released about tobacco usage among Maine youth. The numbers are alarming and climbing. The State of Tobacco Control 2009 report shows that between 2007 and 2008, self-reported rates of smoking in Maine adolescents and teens rose from 14 percent to more than 18 percent, which is the first increase since 1997, when the rate was more than 39 percent.”

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