This is the theme for a new initiative from the Healthy South Carolina Initiative – Community Transformation Grant that was awarded to Fairfield Community Healthy Partners in May 2012. “All Aboard For a Healthy Fairfield”focus areas include tobacco-free living and healthy eating/active living. Fairfield Behavioral Health Services, one of the Health Partners along with support from other partners like the South Carolina Tobacco Free Collaborative is responsible for coordinating with faith based organizations to provide tobacco education with the goal to adopt and implement a model tobacco-free policy, smoke-free environments including vehicles and homes. Fairfield Behavioral Health Services is also charged with leading the youth empowerment strategies with guidance from the Eat Smart Move More South Carolina Coalition (ESMMSC). ESMMSC has dubbed the efforts Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) project. Therefore, HYPE is considered a project of the REAL Teen Action youth group created by Fairfield Behavioral Health Services during the 2011-2012 school year.
The purpose of the Faith Based Tobacco Education Training is to provide the latest information on tobacco, the impact it has on health, and to enhance faith based communities’ abilities to educate its congregation, families, and community as well as implement strategies to improve their health. “A lot of people in the community are affiliated with faith communities so what better way to get the word out on the dangers of tobacco and second hand smoking than by partnering with the faith community”, states Executive Director, Vernon L. Kennedy Sr., at Fairfield Behavioral Health Services.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in South Carolina. The key word is “preventable.” Currently, 21% of S.C. adults smoke cigarettes, and 23.7% of the state’s high school students report having smoked within the past 30 days (South Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (SCBRFSS) 2010 and South Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey (SCYTS) 2011). The economic cost due to smoking in South Carolina is more than three billion dollars, and attributes to deaths exceeding 6,000 residents of the state as reported by Megan Hicks, State Program Director at South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative.
South Carolina Tobacco Free Collaborative along with Fairfield Behavioral Health Services and its partners are working hard to make Fairfield County and South Carolina a healthier place to live, work and raise a family declares presenter, Cheryl Y. Goodwin, Special Service Coordinator at Fairfield Behavioral. “We’re primarily here to educate people about the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke for people and pets. Mrs. Goodwin also explains how help was needed from faith based organizations to encourage and support efforts to prevent youth from starting to smoke and assist current smokers in quitting.