Sentara RMH has received a $180,000 grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth for tobacco prevention among middle-school children.

Sentara RMH received tobacco prevention grant

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Sentara RMH has received a $180,000 grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth.

Funding will be used to support one part-time Sentara RMH respiratory therapist to provide tobacco prevention programming to seventh- and eighth-grade students at Skyline, Thomas Harrison, J. Frank Hillyard, Montevideo, Elkton and Wilbur S. Pence middle schools.

The goal is for prevention and intervention staff to serve 2,500 youth, using the evidence-based curriculum, Toward No Tobacco, a 12-day program designed for sixth- to eighth-grade youth. Toward No Tobacco teaches awareness of misleading social information, develops skills that counteract social pressure to use tobacco and provides information about the physical consequences of tobacco use, such as addiction. 

“Ninety percent of smokers started before they turned 18 years old,” says Sentara RMH health education and awareness coordinator Erica Rollins. “It is imperative to have evidence-based tobacco prevention programs in schools to thwart kids from starting this life-threatening addiction.”

This is the fifth tobacco prevention grant award to Sentara RMH from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. Before the Foundation started to fund this program in 2007, the monthly tobacco use rate in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County was 20.4 percent. The most recent data, collected in 2013, shows that only 12.6 percent of local students in those localities had smoked in the past month.

About Sentara RMH Medical Center:
Sentara RMH Medical Center is a 238-bed community hospital serving a seven-county area with a population of nearly 218,000 persons. In 2010, RMH joined Sentara Healthcare, a not-for-profit system operating more than 100 sites of care throughout Virginia and North Carolina.

About the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY):
Established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1999, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth empowers Virginia’s youth to make healthy choices by promoting an active, nutritionally balanced and tobacco-free lifestyle.

Since the Foundation began its work in 2001, high school smoking in Virginia has been cut by more than 60 percent, and the number of middle school smokers has dropped by more than 75 percent.

VFHY directly reaches about 50,000 children each year through classroom-based prevention programs in public schools, after-school programs, community centers, day cares and prevention programs across the state. VFHY’s award-winning marketing campaigns deliver prevention messaging to more than 500,000 children annually. 

For more information, visit VFHY.org.