Wright County Teens Against Tobacco training a success

Teens from seven Wright County school districts joined together at a two-day retreat at Camp Koinonia in South Haven for a Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) training on November 4-5.

The Retreat, which was sponsored by the Wright County Department of Public Health, brought the teens together so that they could learn the many dangers of tobacco use and the tolls that tobacco use takes on their communities.

The teens also learned how to effectively create and present an anti-tobacco lesson to other students in their communities. Additionally, participants worked on a variety of hands-on projects and listened to presentations from members of Buffalo's Allina Hospital, the Wright County Sheriff's Department, and Target Market.

The program is made possible through funds from the Wright County Public Health's Youth Tobacco Prevention Initiative, a grant from the State of Minnesota's lawsuit settlement against the tobacco corporations in 1998.

"TATU is not a program that is new to Wright County, but it has become a very popular activity for teens," said Alison Horstman, Health Educator and TATU trainer. "Last year, we trained 77 teens who then presented their anti-tobacco messages to over 1500 middle school youth in their communities. This year we trained 90 new teens and we expect their messages to get even stronger. Wright County TATU teens continue to amaze me with their enthusiasm and dedication to this project."    Each participating school district has an adult advisor that served as a chaperone at the retreat and who will continue to work with the teens to help coordinate their classroom presentations and school activities. Celeste Dahlstrom has been the school advisor for Maple Lake for the past two years. Annandale, Buffalo, Dassel-Cokato, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Maple Lake, Monticello, and Rockford schools participated in the two-day retreat. Delano High School will receive a separate training this winter.

Maple Lake's TATU group wasted no time starting in on their programs for the 2002-2003 school year. "TATU teens will be very visible in their communities this coming year. Not only will they be sharing their important messages in the classrooms, they are really excited to work with their communities, as well," said Jill Hylla, Health Educator and TATU trainer.

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