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Health Unit youth group promoting tobacco-free sports

SIMCOE, ONT., JAN. 28, 2009 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s youth group, Fresh Heir, is partnering with two local athletic organizations at tournaments in February to promote tobacco-free sports.

“Fresh Heir has been fortunate enough to partner with the Haldimand Youth Indoor Soccer Club and Haldimand Huskies Basketball, who both share our commitment to keeping youth healthy,” Peer Leader Katie Mattina stated.

Fresh Heir will visit soccer players and coaches on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. at River Heights Public School in Caledonia, and basketball players and coaches on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at McKinnon Park Secondary School. During the tournaments, Fresh Heir will host fun games and activities, and hand out healthy snacks and drinks. The group will also erect displays on tobacco’s negative health impacts and the benefits of tobacco-free sports.

“We will be giving coaches a tobacco-free sports toolkit to help them motivate their players to pledge to remain tobacco free,” said Fresh Heir Peer Leader Megan Hartwick. “The toolkit also encourages the organizations to implement a tobacco-free policy.”

Fresh Heir, a non-profit youth organization operating out of the Health Unit, consists of 10 youth Peer Leaders who work to educate their peers about the dangers of tobacco industry products and prevent young people from becoming replacement tobacco users. The youth have been working with others from all over central-western Ontario to encourage youth to “play, live, be tobacco-free.”

Through these local tournaments, the youth hope to teach players, coaches, parents and spectators about the negative effects tobacco and second-hand smoke can have on athletic performance, such as shortness of breath, decreased levels of physical fitness, increased heart rate and coughing. Fresh Heir will also be sharing information about the benefits of quitting or not using tobacco products, such as lower blood pressure, improved circulation, improved lung function, and increased energy levels.

“It is important to know that our group is not against tobacco users, but against the deceitful tactics of the tobacco industry,” Peer Leader Kristen Rattray noted. “We know the tobacco industry targets youth, and we do not want our peers to become replacement tobacco users for the millions who die each year from tobacco-related illnesses.”

If your sports organization or business is interested in partnering with Fresh Heir, you can email the group at [email protected]

Media Contact:
Ashley Everets
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Phone: 519- 426-6170 Ext. 3276 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3276