Spectrum Health Receives Smoking Prevention Grant

$96,000 from Grand Rapids Community Foundation Aimed at Youth

Spectrum Health has received a $96,000 grant from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation to help in the effort to discourage young people from smoking.

The Healthier Communities HeartReach® program will use the funds to sustain and expand two initiatives-NicoTEAM and Teens Against Tobacco Use or “TATU”-designed to prevent youth tobacco experimentation and use by empowering young people to choose a tobacco free future.

NicoTEAM, a Tobacco Free Partners coalition of organizations that provide tobacco prevention education to children, was founded in 1995 by Thomas H. Peterson, MD, medical director, Spectrum Health Healthier Communities and medical director, quality, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Peterson says that the expansion of these education efforts is important.

“Teenagers are still the primary focus of the tobacco companies and represent 90 percent of where tobacco addiction begins,” said Peterson. “Youth are a powerful component of controlling the tobacco epidemic. With this grant, we can work to keep them from starting smoking and perhaps positively influence other family members.”

The grant will specifically fund the rollout of a middle and high school smoking prevention curriculum to high risk students in the Kent Intermediate School District, focusing on the Grand Rapids Public Schools. The prevention curriculum focuses on kindergarten through eighth grade, with an emphasis on the integrated middle school curriculum. With the TATU program, high school students will be trained to teach younger children about the dangers of tobacco use and how to become advocates for a tobacco free community. All of the TATU students will learn the negative intent of tobacco advertising and the real health impact of smoking. The program will begin in September.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through its seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and 560,000-member health plan, Priority Health.  Spectrum Health’s 14,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.  The organization provided $98.6 million in community benefit during its 2007 fiscal year. Spectrum Health has earned nearly 70 national awards during the past 10 years.