No Spit All-Stars - A great goal for all athletes

posted Aug 25, 2011, 6:39 AM by   [ updated Aug 25, 2011, 7:00 AM ]

Football season is my favorite time of year. The cooler nights, the changing colors, the nachos, and especially the promise that my team is going to do well this year  -- all of which make my throat sore. My brothers refuse to sit next to me while I'm watching any football game -- live or on TV -- in defense of their eardrums. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a quiet person. This, I believe, is a great reason for going hoarse.
Tobacco, on the other hand, is not.
There are few things I hate more than sitting in a stadium trying to yell for my favorite team when I am suddenly suffocated by a cloud of cigarette smoke. Not only are our campuses 100% tobacco-free (yes, that DOES mean stadiums, people), but many smokers seem to be unaware that their secondhand smoke is harming the children around them. Almost equally as disgusting is when I get up to leave and find that I have stepped in a fresh wad of discarded chew, or trip over a spit bottle. Please understand, I am not knocking the people -- I care about tobacco users -- but their habit is uncalled-for on a school campus. 
Apparently, some student athletes feel the same way.
This year, Cherokee County Schools has pledged to participate in the North Carolina Spit Tobacco Education Program's (NC STEP) "No Spit All-Stars" campaign. This week, NC STEP and its partner, "The Sports Flash," announced the nominees for Week #1 of the football season. Among the nominees was Jordan Collins of Andrews for his outstanding performance against Cloudland, TN last week. In order to be nominated, athletes must sign a commitment pledge affirming that they do not use smokeless tobacco. I am very proud of Jordan. The athlete who receives the most votes is named the winner of the week, and also qualifies them for a title of the entire season and even a $1,000 scholarship.
After reviewing the employee handbook earlier this week, the tobacco-free policy is fresh on my mind. No doubt the phrase about coaches and teachers being role models for students is also fresh on some of our coaches' minds. I have received great support from the baseball coaches in the past. So on behalf of our SADD but TRU clubs,  I am extending this program to all of the football coaches as well, while we still have the entire season ahead of us. The club members and I will distribute copies of the student, coach, and parent pledges that must be signed in order for our athletes to qualifiy for this program. In addition, we will provide pamphlets about smokeless tobacco, smoking, and secondhand smoke. I would like each coach to either review, or have me or another designee review, the program and the tobacco-free policy with all of our football players, cheerleaders, and even the other fall sports athletes. Each athlete should have a chance to sign the pledge. I would like to award each athlete who signs with a SADD but TRU stadium cup or other incentive item. If a player is nominated, I'd love to see him/her recognized at the next home game for their commitment to being tobacco-free, and would even be present to help make that announcement if needed.  
Let's have a fantastic football season (and volleyball, soccer and cross-country!) and let's all pledge to be tobacco-free! Who's with me?!
You can read more about NC STEP at the following link:, and read more about The Sports Flash at

Getting the 2011-12 year off to a good start ...

posted Jul 22, 2011, 11:07 AM by   [ updated Jul 22, 2011, 11:29 AM ]

We're baaaaack!!!
At the end of last year, we told our students to brace themselves that the SADD but TRU clubs would be undergoing some changes this year, with the termination of our parent agency, the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund (HWTF). We lost two staff members and our entire grant. We didn't know what this would mean for our clubs, but we knew it would affect the frequency of our meetings and the number and quality of events and outreaches we would be able to conduct.
The last week of June, we received word that the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch (TPCB) had been allotted the monies that would have gone to HWTF, and decided to honor the last year of our three-year grant term by awarding us funds to continue tobacco prevention and cessation education in our communities.
We're obviously thrilled about this news, and hope that this unexpected blessing affords us the opportunity to complete on-going projects, reach out to more students, and search for other sustainable funding.
As of right now, we are planning to continue to keep the clubs up and running at each and every school we served last year in Cherokee and Graham Counties. With the imminent hire of a new staffer, we are excited about the prospects for the year and are confident that we can be even more effective. This will mean clubs at all 16 schools. The meeting frequency may vary slightly for some schools, but it is our hope that we can still meet with high and middle schools once a week and elementary schools once a month. One notable change is that we are currently working with principals to offer at least one meeting per month during school hours, as well as activities integrated into each school's health/physical education curriculum.
We plan to conduct peer-to-peer education, school events, community outreaches, special guest speakers, and countywide events as we have in the past, but even more streamlined. Activities will vary from school to school, because we pride ourselves on being a youth-led movement, and want the students to continue deciding democratically who will serve as officers, and what events or projects their club wants to tackle.
One major project each middle and high school club will work on is effectively producing a piece of media addressing tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, inhalants, or other ATOD topics they feel strongly about. The high school students who attended the WNC Teen Institute will be instrumental in taking the knowledge and skills learned back to their clubs and adjacent middle schools. We hope to produce one video featurette/commercial, radio commercial, billboard, or newspaper article/column per school by the end of the year. We will continue to produce posters within our schools and letters to the editor about important topics, and will continue to submit articles about our progress to school and anti-drug coalition newsletters.
We also hope to step up our parental involvement component by inviting more parents and family members to attend our events.
The selection of incentive items offered will change, as will the points system for how they are earned. Students will still be able to earn SADD but TRU t-shirts, school supplies, and other surprises to be announced soon.
We will begin having meetings for returning middle and high school members the first week of September. Each club will decide how to conduct recruiting activities at their school. We will begin the fifth-grade clubs when the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program starts in October.
We look forward to seeing all of you then! Until then, have a wonderful last few weeks of summer!
Cindi Herr, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator
SADD but TRU Program Coordinator

1-2 of 2