Hazelwood School District Continues Commitment Against Student Smoking

Shown here are Hazelwood Northwest Middle School eighth-graders and Air02Dynamics participants, Briahna Sparks and Mya Hardison following an information session on tobacco products/cessation.

Recently, more than 70 Hazelwood School District middle and high school students, along with students representing four other school districts, participated in an “AirO2Dynamic” meeting, sponsored by the St. Louis County Department of Health. The meeting took place at the John C. Murphy Health Center in Berkeley.

AirO2Dynamic is the youth component of Let’s Face It, an initiative of the St. Louis County Department of Health aimed at inspiring the residents of St. Louis County to face the challenges of tobacco, together.

“We were proud in August 2012, when HSD was recognized with a ‘gold-standard’ tobacco award, for its tobacco-free campus policy,” said Crystal Nelson, HSD director of health services. “We trust that, by encouraging students to participate in the County’s program,  we’re demonstrating the district’s continued commitment to student wellness.”

The primary objectives of the AirO2Dynamic session was to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco, educate students by providing them the tools they need to fight tobacco industry marketing, and finally, to get students involved with organizations that promote healthy living, Nelson said.

“The AirO2Dynamic meeting objectives aligned with our District goal to help students succeed through making informed decisions. We are teaching our children early on about the dangers of tobacco, before outside factors negatively influence them,” said Nelson.

AirO2Dynamic is a diverse group of students with a common bond of creating a healthier, tobacco-free St. Louis.

“When the final number of attendees for the Air02Dynamic program was reported, we were pleasantly surprised that 160 middle and high schools students had registered from all over St. Louis County,” said Desiree Whitlock, health education coordinator for the St. Louis County Department of Health and HSD Board of Education member. “The program was originally planned to host a small group but we were thrilled with the final turnout.”

During the opening session, students were given an opportunity to list on notecards the issues that they face in their respective schools. Many of the answers came back with a similar theme– tobacco, drug and alcohol usage, bullying, and school violence.

“While we could not address all areas in detail, we did cover most of the topics during break-out sessions. We hope to continue the discussion in future meetings,” said Whitlock.

After students were treated to a pizza dinner, the group was divided into two smaller groups by grade-level, middle and high school. During each session, the groups rotated to various classrooms for topical discussions led by county experts.

“We hope that the students who participated will take information from this session and share it with their families and peers; especially, the key message of abstaining from the use of tobacco and tobacco-related products.  We do believe, as stated in our mission, that by working together, this can be the first generation to be tobacco-free,” she said.

For additional information about AirO2Dynamic, you can visit the St. Louis County Health Department’s website at http://youth.letsfaceitstl.com.



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