No-smoking message isn't lost in translation

Native of Cuba helping youth in local Hispanic community avoid tobacco habit

Native of Cuba helping youth in local Hispanic community avoid tobacco habit

February 27, 2008|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN - Sila Alegret-Bartel grew up in Cuba, where she was raised in a culture of smoking.

Her father was a cigarette smoker, an addiction that ultimately claimed his life after he contracted a smoking-related cancer, she said.

That provided the foundation for her anti-smoking convictions, and she's found a way to share that message with local youths through the No Smoking Youth Club.

The club was founded by Andy Smith several years ago with a focus on black children ages 7 to 12. Alegret-Bartel recently started a Hispanic component to the club.


"As the Hispanic population grows in Hagerstown, we feel there is a need to help children 7 to 12 learn the dangers of smoking," Alegret-Bartel said.

The program is funded by the Cigarette Restitution Fund and Washington County Health Department.

Participants meet every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at the Memorial Recreation Center on West North Avenue. There is no fee to join and registered youths receive lunch, then hear from a variety of speakers.

Alegret-Bartel finds bilingual speakers in Spanish and English for the Hispanic component. She also has translated the club's materials into Spanish.

The goal now is to get the word out to the Hispanic community. She said that in addition to having an open house to encourage visitors, the club is being advertised in La Voz Latina, a Spanish publication in the Hagerstown area, and in county libraries, churches and Latino stores.

Alegret-Bartel, 63, came to the United States when she was 20 and spent most of her life in Prince George's County, Md. She and her husband, Mark, have been married for 24 years.

They live in Greencastle, Pa., and have three grown sons and two grandchildren.

Alegret-Bartel is grateful her father insisted his children get a good education and learn to speak English. She graduated from college in Cuba with a bachelor's degree in general education.

Her bilingual skills have served her well in her company, International Corporate Training & Marketing, with an affiliate office at Hagerstown Community College. Her company provides corporate bilingual training, translation and interpretation.

For more information about the program, call Alegret-Bartel at 301-526-7468 or Smith at 301-393-9290.

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