Unique health program at Richmond’s Grant Elementary tackles smoking by educating parents

Unique health program at Richmond's Grant Elementary tackling smoking by educating parents
Richmond City Council member Gayle McLaughlin, then Richmond's mayor, shakes hands with Dr. Raymond Chimezie at Grant Elementary School event last year.

We told you last year about Dr. Raymond Chimezie’s unique programs to improve the healths of students attending Grant Elementary School in Richmond.

This year, Chimezie has a new tactic: instead of just educating students about health issues, he’s reaching out to their parents.

On March 5, Chimezie, who also runs youth health programs in African schools, gave a presentation to parents at literacy night at Grant Elementary on the dangers of smoking.

The founder of Health for Schools and Communities Foundation is trying to teach parents who smoke that their habit is unintentionally teaching their children that tobacco is a normal part of life.

Dr. Raymond was teaching hand washing,
Dr. Raymond Chimezie teaches health education programs locally and in Africa. Here, he is teaching hand washing to kids in a Nigerian school.

Along with that instruction, he’s been showing videos that exhibit the damaging effects of smoking, much like one would see when viewing gruesome crash images in driving school. Children who see their parents puffing on cigarettes may not draw the connection to the eventual consequences of such a habit. The hope is that kids who are consistently exposed to smoking will be able to view the habit as unhealthy and damaging rather than normal.

“If both parents and children are aware of the health conditions, it will limit the frequency of parents smoking in front of children,” Chimezie said.

Chimezie is becoming known for installing unique health programs in schools worldwide. Last year at Grant Elementary, he started a program in which students appointed as health ambassadors encouraged schoolmates in the cafeteria to choose fruits and vegetables over junk food. Also, he arranged to have announcements over the school’s intercom providing health information and tips.

Chimezie’s teachings extend to schools in Africa. In a Nigerian school, for example, he’s teaching kids the health importance of hand-washing, as many schools don’t have water fountains.

The health education programs overseas and in the West Contra Costa Unified School District need funding, Chimezie said. He hopes community members will see the benefits of such programs. Information on how to donate can be viewed at the Health for Schools and Communities Foundation Web site here.


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