School officials are “clearing the air” by decreasing the prevalence of young smokers in the Big Bend. Some local middle schools may be welcoming a tobacco prevention program this fall.
Leon County's superintendent of schools says the responsibilities of educators are to help youth make sound judgments even with issues dealing with their health, and tobacco prevention programs in our schools carry out that goal.
Bill Montford, Leon County School Superintendent, says, "Florida's percentage of middle school students is slightly above the national average. Leon County is slightly below the state average but any student smoking is too many."
School Board members will vote on a $50,000 grant application to extend the "Positive Action" Program. The prevention program is already in place in some in elementary schools and the vote will determine if it will be extended to targeted middle schools.
This extension comes as one of the nation's most successful anti-smoking programs. SWAT is facing state funding issues. Superintendent of Leon County Schools says positive action helps continue that programs purpose.
Nancy Stokely, principal at Sable Palm Elementary, says, "It just seems very natural for it to continue in Middle schools for them and continue and build onto the knowledge they already have. It will give them tools they need to be able to say no."
Montford adds, "It's a instrument we can use to help students make wise choices."
Split-second choices that can have lasting affects on the lives of these young students.
The program will be implemented at Griffin, Nims and Belle Vue Middle Schools if the grant application is approved by board members. The vote will take place Tuesday night at the Leon County School Board meeting.