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Learning the pitfalls of smoking

Three camps encourage students to lead an active, healthy, tobacco-free life.

Dianna Bandhauer has never smoked. She is horrified by the tactics tobacco advertisers use to hook smokers.

She learned about some of those tactics at a training workshop sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control.

"You become a tobacco-free advocate," she said.

And Bandhauer, with the help of other educators, showed her determination to prevent young students from becoming addicted to tobacco with the first of three after-school camps.

Funding was provided by a $37,500 grant awarded to Lecanto Primary School and Homosassa Elementary School.

Three teachers applied for the grant: Bandhauer and Donna Stewart, physical education teachers at Lecanto Primary School, and Karen Hatto, a physical education teacher at Homosassa Elementary School. (Stewart is also her school's Teacher of the Year.) They were awarded the funding through the American Heart Association Youth Fitness and Tobacco Prevention Education Program.

The money was part of the state tobacco settlement, Bandhauer said.

"It's supposed to be for fitness, healthy lifestyle and a tobacco-free lifestyle."

The first camp, last week, included sections in TV production, art, journalism, and tennis, track and football. Children from Homosassa Elementary School were bused to Lecanto for free. Snacks were donated by the Homosassa Publix supermarket.

Although the children were divided into different areas of interest, all the sections included tobacco-free lessons, including reasons not to smoke.

"Activity, healthy lifestyle is the No. 1 priority," Bandhauer said. "People will smoke before they know they can't quit (even) if they want to."

She doesn't want any child to even start, she said.

An undertaking of this magnitude, with the amount of organization and paperwork, required help.

"We had an incredible response from our faculty," said Bandhauer. Many teachers helped to get things organized, she said.

Other teachers worked for the duration of the camp and received stipends for their time. They also received classroom equipment that was purchased for the camp, including art supplies and sports equipment.

Lecanto High art teachers Connie Phillips, Dave Brown and Keith Gum and Lecanto Primary art teacher Cory Collins taught the camp's four art sections. Lecanto High's athletic director and head football coach, Dick Slack, and one of the high school's assistant principals, Mike Mullen, handled the football.

Denita Eatman _ who teaches journalism, newspaper and language arts at Lecanto High _ and Lecanto Primary technology teacher Lee Mulder handled the journalism group. Lecanto High social studies teacher Melissa Roy taught the TV production section.

Lecanto Primary fourth-grade teacher Chrissy Grant had the tennis group. And Lecanto High track coaches Ron Cline, who teaches physical education, and Shawn Bell, who teaches science, oversaw the runners.

The next two camps will be held this year. The funding must be spent by May.

Bandhauer and Stewart are thinking of including wrestling, basketball, volleyball and softball.