First place winner Juan Elizondo shows his Tar Wars poster to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex. Also pictured: Rebecca Hart, M.D., Tar Wars program advisors chair, left, and Veronica Elizondo, Juan's sister.
Participants at the AAFP's annual Tar Wars National Conference this week recognized winners of the 2012 Tar Wars national poster and video contest(www.tarwars.org). Juan Elizondo, a fifth-grader from Houston, won the poster contest with a tagline of "Blow Bubbles, Not Smoke(www.tarwars.org)," and Lauren Buete, a fourth-grader from Tierra Verde, Fla., performed an original song about being tobacco-free in her winning video entry(www.tarwars.org).
Each child received a $1,500 gift card during a ceremony at the July 16-17 national conference in Washington D.C.
Tar Wars(www.tarwars.org) is the AAFP's tobacco-free education program that family physicians and other health care professionals present to fourth- and fifth-graders. More than 8.5 million children have seen the presentations since the program's inception in 1988.
In an interview with AAFP News Now, Rebecca Hart, M.D., of Baytown, Texas, who is the Tar Wars program advisors chair and a member of the AAFP Commission on Health of the Public and Science, said the Tar Wars program and its message make it a worthwhile endeavor.
"The No. 1 reason I got involved in this program is that it advocates for kids," she said. "It is a major initiative that promotes positive health behaviors at an age when kids will listen. I want them to learn about these things when we can still make an impact."
After physicians present the Tar Wars curriculum in school classrooms, students are encouraged to create posters and videos conveying the positive aspects of being tobacco-free.
In addition to Elizondo and Buete, seven runners-up were recognized at the awards ceremony:
- Second place (poster contest): Anna Wray Lusk, Scottsboro, Ala.;
- Third place (poster contest): Megan Cycon, West Seneca, N.Y.;
- Fourth place (poster contest): Sara Akhtar, Las Vegas;
- Second place (video contest)(www.tarwars.org): Ian Cook, Carson Levy, Joseph Pergolini and Noah Klein, Las Vegas;
- Third place (video contest(www.tarwars.org)): Alexandra Peterson, Paiton Allen, and Sydney Ramenofsky, Las Vegas; and
- Fourth place (video contest)(www.tarwars.org): Sterling Ayers, Ranburne, Ala.
Thirty-four state poster winners in attendance at the Tar Wars conference received a prize packet and a special gift.
Many of the children at the conference also visited Capitol Hill July 17 and met with their elected officials, presenting them with copies of their posters and information about the program.
Tar Wars is supported in part by the AAFP Foundation(www.aafpfoundation.org).