Healthy Ways: Local youth deserve praise for prevention

Kudos arrived from Salem and from Washington, D.C., for young people in Hood River County.

The honors from Oregon Health Authority and the U.S. Surgeon General are something the students at Wy’east and Hood River middle schools, particularly the Health Media Club members, should be rightfully proud to receive.

In assemblies last week at both schools (photos on page A9) members of the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families passed along awards to students for helping achieve Oregon’s goal of 73 percent or more of eighth-graders in Oregon not using alcohol in last 30 days in 2012.

Hood River and Wy’east Middle School eighth-graders did far better — 83 percent of their students reported no use of alcohol in last 30 days in 2012.

“You should be excited; there weren’t many places in the U.S. to receive these awards, so you should be very proud,” said Shaun Anderson of the Surgeon General’s award. For the past two years Anderson served as county prevention specialist and advisor for the Health Media Clubs, working with students at both middle schools and in Cascade Locks. The students produce media and do outreach to youth and adults on reducing use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana in our communities.

Surgeon General of the United States Regina Benjamin, M.D., sent certificates of appreciation for Health Media Students at both middle schools for working to reduce tobacco use by youth and adults.

“She wanted to recognize the health media clubs here for the amazing work they have done here to reduce tobacco use in Hood River County,” said Anderson, now a probation officer with the county. He stood with his successor, Belinda Ballah, at the Wy’east ceremony. Anderson pointed to the multi-faceted prevention work by the students, including educational theater ads at Hood River Cinemas, and working with the County Fair Board to reduce tobacco use at the county fairgrounds.

What was most encouraging was the enthusiasm shown by the middle school student leaders, in standing before their peers in recognition of working to promote healthy behaviors among their peers and adults alike.

Maija Yasui, prevention coordinator with the Commission on Children and Families, invoked the names of Elvia Santillan and Yesi Castro, who were honored three years ago by the Surgeon General for their prevention leadership.

The tradition of diligent student involvement in prevention seems to be in good hands, which is a good thing, because the hard work goes on. The students need to know they are not on their own, that communities are listening and taking to heart the advice they give.

Pearl Harbor Flags lowered Dec. 7 in remembrance

Gov. John Kitzhaber today ordered all flags at public institutions to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday, Dec. 7, in remembrance of Pearl Harbor.

“I encourage all Oregonians to pause and pay tribute to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice at Pearl Harbor,” said Kitzhaber. “The legacy of these brave men and women continues to inspire us today, and we honor them for their selfless service, both here at home and overseas during World War II.”

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