Blenheim Soccer Playing and Being Tobacco Free
According to the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit, the Blenheim Community Soccer League has become the poster child for their Tobacco Free Sports and Recreation program, put on by Live, Play, Be Tobacco Free, with their impressive tobacco free policy implementation.
“We did it for their health,” said Blenheim Community Soccer President Robin Rideout. “We had parents requesting no smoking around their small children, and we had two public health nurses on our board at the time who helped us through the process.”
According to Rideout, and Chatham-Kent Public Health Tobacco Control Coordinator Michelle Bogaert, the process of beginning and then enforcing a tobacco free inititive within local sports organizations has not been difficult, and was met with little resistance from Blenheim parents and players.
In fact, when it comes to enforcement of Blenheim’s tobacco free policy, it’s left up to three to four youth who wear vests at games, and will hand any person smoking or using tobacco, a card reminding them of the policy,
“I find adults are very respectful of it,” said Rideout, “It’s just a matter of letting them know what the policy is.”
Currently, a number of organizations including the Chatham Jr. Maroons, Chatham-Kent Cougars, Blenheim Soccer, and Dresden Skating Club, are all enforcing tobacco free initiatives for their players, coaches, and spectators in Chatham-Kent. For Rideout, the decision was an easy one, and she’s excited about the positive lessons her youth participants are learning,
“I hope it’s teaching them that smoking is not a healthy activity and that it’s ok to speak up and respect your personal rights. You don’t have to have someone smoking right beside you and if you don’t like something you can stand up for change.”
Although some might look at this program as an avenue for confrontation, that issue has not materialized, and according to Rideout, it’s amazing what an organization can accomplish when they put the youth first,
“The hardest part was what we thought people would say, we thought we’d have all kinds of problems, but we didn’t. It’s all about education. The adults were respectful, and the kids have done a great job enforcing it. It’s amazing; when you put the health of the kids first, there is never any arguement.”
For more information on how your sports organization can become tobacco free, feel free to visit http://www.playlivebetobaccofree.ca/.