Local Youth Advocates Partner With Caroline County Public Schools to Help Strengthen the Division’s Tobacco-Free Policy
When two seniors from Riverbend High School in Spotsylvania County first approached the Caroline County School Board in November about strengthening its tobacco policy, the board immediately took measures to address their recommendations. “I’m very impressed with the student leadership and the level and depth of their knowledge in the importance of a tobacco-free school,” said Dr. Monroe, Director of School Leadership and School Improvement for Caroline County Public Schools.
Lauren Sauceda (18) and Karen Huezo (17) are two youth leaders of Y Street, the award-winning teen volunteer program of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. Y Street youth from across Virginia work on campaigns like 24/7, a campaign that partners with Virginia school divisions to help them adopt, implement, and enforce 100% comprehensive tobacco-free policies, like the one adopted by the Caroline County School Division on Monday night.
Monday’s vote to adopt this new policy will protect the more than 4,300 youth in their division from the harmful influence of tobacco by adopting a 100% comprehensive tobacco- and e-cigarette-free policy. The new policy, will go into affect January 8, 2018 prohibits the possession of any tobacco product by minors, requires visitors to refrain from tobacco use on all school property and at all school-sponsored event, and removes designated smoking areas from all school properties.
“When we went to Caroline County’s school board meeting we were not sure what to expect. Little did we know that the school board members were already very dedicated to providing a healthy school environment.” Said Lauren Sauceda “Not only were they happy to hear what we had to say about the 24/7 campaign, but they were all willing to make some great changes to their tobacco policy’s with the help of Y Street.”
Comprehensive policies support a school environment that is 100% free from tobacco products – including electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products – by prohibiting any tobacco use by students, staff, or visitors on all school property and at school-sponsored events, including those that are off-site.
In adopting the revised policy, Caroline County School Division is now the 32nd school division in Virginia recognized by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth as having a 100% comprehensive tobacco- and e-cigarette-free policy.
“We have students talking on the importance of school division policies and practices. I see passion here on a purposeful and worthy cause that we’re moving forward with,” said Dr. Parker, Caroline County Superintendent. “It meant a lot to the board that they could hear straight from students and hear that message. I really am impressed with the level of understanding of the policies and how we can make our schools 100% comprehensive tobacco free.”
Unfortunately, nearly 20% of Virginia teens use e-cigarettes, according to the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and the Virginia Department of Health. Students are also more likely to use tobacco in places they have seen other students or adults using tobacco. 100% tobacco- and e-cigarette-free schools ensure positive role modeling by teachers, coaches, staff, visitors, and peers, and send a powerful message to students about tobacco use. Caroline County’s new 100% comprehensive tobacco-free policy represents a firm commitment by the school board to help its students live tobacco-free.
To help communicate Caroline County’s comprehensive policy to students, staff and visitors, the 24/7 campaign will provide all of the public schools in Caroline County with free signs displaying the new tobacco-free regulations and a comprehensive toolkit to support the division and its schools in implementing and enforcing the new policy.
About the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY)
Established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1999, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth empowers Virginia’s youth to make healthy choices by promoting active, nutritious and tobacco-free living. Since the Foundation began its work in 2001, high school smoking in Virginia has been cut by more than 60 percent and the number of middle school smokers has dropped by more than 75 percent! The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth directly reaches about 50,000 children each year through classroom-based prevention programs in public schools, after-school programs, community centers, daycares and prevention programs across the state. VFHY’s award-winning marketing campaigns deliver prevention messaging to more than 500,000 children annually.
About Y Street and the 24/7 Campaign
Started in 2004, Y Street is the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s teen volunteer group for high school students. Y Street youth work on obesity and tobacco-use prevention to help create a healthier Virginia. Y Street members have been invited to testify before the FDA and have worked on public health issues with top government officials, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Virginia’s Governor, and Virginia’s Attorney General. Since 2004, over 8,000 teens statewide have participated in Y Street. For more information, visit www.YStreet.org.
The 24/7 campaign is an initiative to help all schools in Virginia understand, adopt, implement, and enforce comprehensive tobacco-free policies. It is a program of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and Y Street, Virginia’s largest youth-led movement. For more information, visit http://www.247CampaignVA.com.
24/7 Campaign / Y Street
Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth
Richard Foster (804) 225-3947