Retired Bath County Teacher Leads Anti-Tobacco Drive
Warm Springs, Va – A retired Bath County teacher is spending her time back in the classroom educating students about the harms of tobacco use. Mary Adderton is the Director of Educational Services for Virginia Rural Health, which provides tobacco prevention and reduction education for students in Bath and Highland Counties.
“What I think is the real key to our program is that we teach children how to say no” says Adderton. “We have strategies that we’re teaching children how to say no to negative peer pressure which is so important at this time with bullying being such a problem in our public schools. I see my program as an integral part of what the guidance counselors and the teachers are doing to try to help kids say no to negative peer pressure.”
Adderton works with students in grades three through ten in both Bath and Highland County schools. She uses games, videos, role playing and art projects to get the message across.
“I think the most difficult part about this program is, especially with the tobacco prevention, is that so many of them have parents and grandparents that chew and they smoke” she says. “And when you talk about the fact that 400,000 people die each year of tobacco related diseases, that kinda frightens kids.
She says the kids start thinking about family members who smoke or chew and realize they could lose their loved ones to tobacco related diseases.
“The reality of what I say to [the kids] is that they were not educated about the harms of tobacco” says Adderton. “In many cases they did not get the opportunity that you have, so you can make better choices.”
Adderton feels she is making progress with the program. In 2004 53% of 9th graders in Bath and Highland reported that they had tried tobacco products. In 2010 that was down to 47%. But there is still a ways to go. The state average of students who have tried tobacco is 21%.
“There’s $700,000 a day that is used for the advertising of tobacco” says Adderton. “When I first heard that number I thought that’s gotta be a mistake, but it’s not. We try to get the kids to see that advertising targets young people often to use tobacco because the older people [who smoke or chew] are dying out.”
Adderton taught in Bath County for 33 years. She retired in 2004, but didn’t stay retired for long. She found that she missed the students, so she began in this job in early 2005.
“Parents, if you are a smoker, or if you chew; if you can listen to what your children are telling you that I’m teaching them; I send brochures home – you can make this a family project to say I’m going to give it up” she says. “We know that 53,000 people die each year that never smoke a cigarette because they have been around second hand smoke.”
For more information you can reach Mary Adderton at 540-839-2012 or you can leave a message at any of the schools in Bath or Highland.