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Dishes are mucho bueno at Latino Festival

September 29, 2007|By TAMELA BAKER

Lunch had a decidedly Spanish flair for members of the No Smoking Youth Club on Saturday, as club members celebrated a Family and Friends Day Latino Festival.

After a field trip to the recent Hispanic Festival at Fairgrounds Park, the club's adviser, Andy Smith, asked the young members if they wanted to mark Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month with a celebration of their own. The youths soon were researching Latin dishes, and on Saturday, the work paid off as they munched on burritos at the Martin Luther King Center.

"It's de-lish," declared 8-year-old Amesha Moore.

Maryland Broadus, also 8, had researched the recipe for Saturday's function. "It tastes like chicken," she observed.

Most of the dozen or so club members participating said they hadn't often eaten such ethnic fare - "except sometimes in McDonald's," said Jiong Tansey, 14.

But Jiong seemed delighted with his lunch. "The food is delicious," he said.

The No Smoking Youth Club is a peer-education program that teaches young people about tobacco and other health dangers. It is sponsored by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Minority Outreach and Technical Assistance (MOTA). The MOTA office is run by Brothers United Who Dare To Care.

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Smith said club members wanted to learn more about the Latino culture, which fits into one of the club's goals - connecting with other minorities.

The research into ethnic food also gave Smith an opportunity to encourage the youths to make healthy food choices, and to drive home the point that smoking even can affect the way food tastes.

The No Smoking Youth Club meets weekly, and hosts monthly Family and Friends Day gatherings that draw parents and siblings.

Club members help plan events and set goals, he said, and spread the education they're getting about the dangers of smoking to their friends and families.

"We're teaching the kids to take the lead," he said.

As a result of these activities, he added, "some parents gave up using tobacco."

"If it grows, we would like to see neighborhoods start their own," Smith said.

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