SIMCOE, May 23, 2013 – Play, live and be tobacco-free.
That’s the message visitors to Wind-Del Park will be receiving throughout the summer sports season.
The Optimist Club of Windham and District, which operates Wind-Del Park, implemented a tobacco-free policy on May 1. The new policy prohibits the use of tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, by all players, spectators, coaches, officials, and organizers of activities associated with the club.
“Our organization feels it is important to set a good example and to help kids be the best they can be,” said Lisa Gilbert, president of the Optimist Club of Windham and District.
Club members approached the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit in April, stating their desire to create a tobacco-free policy. Public health officials were excited to learn of the club’s interest in a policy, and they offered to support the Optimists throughout the development of the policy. A grant provided by the Health Unit was used by the club to purchase and install signs that remind park goers of the new policy.
“It’s always exciting to hear of community groups and organizations who take initiative to improve the health of our community members. We were happy to be able to help them through the process,” said Michelle Pasichnyk, population health program manager at the Health Unit.
Members of HEAT, the Health Unit’s youth volunteer program, will help promote the Optimist Club’s new policy at the park on Monday, June 3. The teens will have a booth with information about tobacco-free sports and recreation as well as some free giveaways for players and spectators.
“The Optimists deserve congratulations for creating a local, public space that supports healthy, tobacco-free lifestyles,” said Tiffany Forde, a youth volunteer with HEAT. “People at Wind-Del Park will now be protected from second-hand smoke, plus kids using the park won’t be exposed to as much tobacco use, which helps denormalize smoking and chewing tobacco.”
Forde also noted that a smoking ban can significantly reduce the amount of cigarette butt litter at the park.
The Health Unit encourages other sport and recreation organizations interested in making their organization, league or team tobacco-free to visit www.playlivebetobaccofree.com or call the Health Unit at 519-426-6170 ext. 3276.
Youth Engagement Coordinator
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3276 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623