Tar Wars Updates Resources for Presenters

Program Seeks Applicants for FMIG Awards

November 30, 2015 01:32 pm Chris Crawford

Winners of the 2015 Tar Wars Challenge are recognized at the annual National Conference in Kansas City, Mo.

Tar Wars, the tobacco-free education program for fourth- and fifth-grade students, has updated its resources for those who want to present the curriculum in their community.

The resources include revised PowerPoint slides(9 MB PPT), a handout(156 KB PDF) for kids to take home to share with their parents, and a Tar Wars in the Doctor's Office word search game(2 page PDF) intended to educate students and their families about the harmful effects of tobacco use.

Tar Wars is designed to teach fourth- and fifth-graders about the short-term health effects of tobacco use and show them images of the consequences of smoking. The program also

  • illustrates the financial impact of using tobacco and ways money could be better spent;
  • identifies reasons why people use tobacco; and
  • explains how tobacco advertising, tobacco use in movies and other industry marketing activities focus on making these products appealing to youth.
Story Highlights
  • Tar Wars, the tobacco-free education program for fourth- and fifth-grade students, has updated its resources for those interested in presenting the curriculum in their community.
  • The resources include revised PowerPoint slides, a handout for kids to take home to share with their parents, and a Tar Wars in the Doctor's Office word search game intended to educate students and their families about the harmful effects of tobacco use.
  • The application period for the 2016 Tar Wars Challenge is now open to medical students who presented Tar Wars to the most children and communities, with the opportunity to win as much as $500 for their family medicine interest groups.

Created in 1988 by former AAFP President Jeff Cain, M.D., of Denver, and health educator Glenna Pember, P.A., of the Hall of Life, a division of the (then) Denver Museum of Natural History, the program has reached more than 10 million children worldwide. Tar Wars is supported, in part, by the AAFP Foundation.(www.aafpfoundation.org)

Tar Wars Advisers' Recommendations

Three family physicians who act as advisers to the Tar Wars program offered their views on what they think are the most valuable resources the program provides presenters.

Sarah Mullins, M.D., of Wilmington, Del., told AAFP News that the Tar Wars PowerPoint presentation has been very useful in teaching children about tobacco use, because it provides up-to-date information on hot topics such as electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products that are marketed to children.

"Spending time in the classroom shows the dedication that family physicians have to improving health across the entire lifespan," she said. "Our local tobacco-free advocates describe tobacco as a childhood disease with adult complications."

For family physicians who are considering presenting Tar Wars for the first time, Mullins said not to discount the fact that the experience is pretty fun for the presenter, too.

"It brings back the silliness of being in fourth grade into our lives, while delivering an important message," she said.

Saria Carter Saccocio, M.D., of Simpsonville, S.C., told AAFP News the Tar Wars Program Guide(www.tarwars.org) is her go-to resource when preparing to present to fourth- and fifth-graders.

"I especially like that there are 14 different activities to choose from based on the demographics of the community classroom," she said. "For example, other nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes and hookahs are becoming more popular than cigarettes."

Saccocio said teachers deeply appreciate those who present Tar Wars in local schools, and the level of engagement from the kids is energizing. For her, it's another reminder that family physicians are essential in their roles as leaders in the health of the public.

Ada Stewart, M.D., R.Ph., of Columbia, S.C., told AAFP News that she finds the Tar Wars in the Doctor's Office word search game to be an especially valuable resource to reach young patients in the office and help them choose not to smoke.

"(Family physicians) say they are able to answer questions and start the conversation there in the office," she said.

Stewart said family physicians also recognize that tobacco and smoking is a public health issue that impacts the entire family.

"We see the impact daily -- diagnoses of cancer, respiratory diseases in kids of parents that smoke," she said. "This is a perfect way to improve the health of our communities by presenting the Tar Wars message."

Apply Now for 2016 Tar Wars Challenge

Turns out, medical students have a unique incentive to present the Tar Wars curriculum: Each year, students who present Tar Wars to the most children and communities have a chance to win as much as $500 for their family medicine interest groups (FMIGs).

Tar Wars will bestow three awards to the FMIGs with the most outstanding community service efforts involving presentation of the program.

  • First prize: $500
  • Second prize: $300
  • Third prize: $200

To be eligible, medical students must present the Tar Wars program between Sept. 1, 2015, and April 1, 2016.

To apply for the award, a medical student, faculty or staff member must complete and submit the AAFP Tar Wars Feedback Form for Presenters by April 1.

When filling out the form, applicants should select "yes" when asked if they are participating in the FMIG awards program (Tar Wars Challenge). Applicants will be asked to provide information about their medical school, FMIG, faculty adviser, presentation dates and locations, and medical student participation.

Related AAFP News Coverage
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AAFP Tobacco Control Mini-grant Recipients Kick Butts
Funding Helps Spread Anti-Tobacco, Nicotine Messages

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AAFP Reimagines Tobacco Prevention, Control Program
Planned Tobacco Resources to Expand Beyond Tar Wars

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