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No Smoking club's banquet features plenty of role models

April 27, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

There was no shortage of role models at Friday night's No Smoking Youth Club banquet for family and friends at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

Staff, visitors and even the keynote speaker were there to sing the praises of quitting smoking or better yet, never starting.

"Smoking is probably the most preventable health problem we have," author and health educator Richard Williams said. "Diabetes, heart and lung problems are all connected to smoking."

Williams has a doctorate in health education and administration, and has taught college-level courses in nutrition and health education.

While this is the second year for the No Smoking Youth Club, there have been activities and programs aimed at smoking and other poor health choices for about five years for youngsters ages 7 to 12 years, said Andy Smith of Brothers United Who Dare to Care.

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Several young club members were to recite their impressions of some of those programs and trips during Friday's banquet, Smith said.

"I want to give a challenge to everyone in the room to make changes in their health," Smith said, noting that in the past few years, he has given up red meat, pork and fried foods in his personal effort to make better food choices.

Two years ago, Smith said he asked young people what kind of program they wanted. His daughter, Toni, weighed in and suggested starting a No Smoking Youth Club.

Akelah Taylor, 11, has been a member for two years.

"I helped my mom quit smoking by telling her all the things I learned about why you shouldn't smoke," she said.

If friends try to get her to smoke, Aneka Moore, 9, said she will tell them she doesn't want to - something she said she learned in the club.

Even 7-year-old Amesha Moore professed her commitment to being smoke-free in the face of peer pressure.

"I'm going to be sure not to smoke," she said.

Photographs around the gymnasium on Friday night depicted field trips the club members have taken and a youth camp last summer where dozens of young people spent a day learning about ways to fend off attempts to get them to smoke.

Handouts included bright yellow T-shirts for club members and hopefuls, a health history lesson about smoking and other social problems, and a tobacco quiz about cigarette-related deaths, laws on smoking and why people start smoking.

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