under the sun
THE BRUNSWICK j^BEACON D
THURSDAY, MARCH 12. 1992 j ^
'Creators' Set Aside
Loyalties To Se! ! Healthy Habits To Peers
BY DORI COSGROVE GURGANUS
Given ihe health problems common among adults
these days such as high cholesterol and cxccss
body fat, how can young people leam to live
Asking teenagers to listen to lectures on low-fat
foods, exercise and not smoking sounds difficult for
teachers and health educators ? and boring for the stu
But what about getting students to do the job?
Why not formulate a program in which kids, trained
as health advocates, spread the word about healthy
lifestyles to cach other?
That's the idea Rita Hatcher, wellness coordinator for
the Brunswick County school system, came up with
when given the task of teaching teenagers across the
county about good nutrition and healthy activities.
"I want kids to sec that there arc other ways to enjoy
yourself and to gain notoriety than doing drugs or drink
ing, she said. "I want them to get high on health."
'Teenagers should be popular for the right reasons,
and being healthy is the way to make it"
As a result, a group of students from West, South and
North Brunswick high schools are setting aside school
rivalries to jointly devise a way to reach their peers.
Tentatively named the Coastal Creators, the group is
made up of about 40 teenagers, most of them juniors and
seniors. Two students each were selected from athletic,
academic and activity groujjs by their teachers and rec
ommended to serve on what Ms. Hatchcr also calls "the
To serve as advisors, she recruited Mary Russ, an ex
tension home economics agent; Jan Reichenbach, health
educator with the county health department; and Bobby
Jones, director of the county parks and recreation de
These young adults have planned a show to demon
strate the bad effects of eating junk food, smoking, using
drugs and not exercising.
The diverse group, made up of males and females,
blacks and whites, hopes to tell their classmates and
even students at elemeriary and middle schools that
there arc options to treating their bodies badly.
The group plans to premiere its show with an April
14 performance for participants in the county's drop-out
Then they plan to take the show on the road to other
schools across the county or anywhere they're invited.
The point is to make people aware that many of the
eating habits and lifestyle habits they have arc un
"I was raised on country cooking," said North
Brunswick High School sophomore Crystal Lester, "and
A healthy diet is "something you have to learn," she
Thai's where Mrs. Russ comes in, "to keep the health
facts straight," she said of her job. "We're trying to
teach youths to be advocates of good health and to
spread the word."
Sherry Simmons, of South Brunswick High, said, "In
my house you always get that temptation."
Sweets and foods high in fats are commonly found
in her parents' kitchen, and she plans to encourage them
to purchase healthier food.
The goal, outlined by Ms. Hatcher, is to promote re
sponsibility and self-reliance through positive activities
and healthy eating habits.
"That way they can enjoy being young and live a
long life," she said, "and there's nothing wrong with
By spreading the word to their classmates, Coastal
Creators hopes to reeducate parents and teachers as well
about the benefits of foods high in fiber and low in fat.
^ngridRm ?GETHEK 10 plan an "Panting stage show are ( left to right) Crystal Lester, Robin Wilson , Rita Hatcher (standing Cleda ^Ifag^rTcmd
cholesterol and calorics. They also want to encourage
people to lift weights, jog, play a sport, or just keep their
Part of the show involves a skit, featuring a "couch
potato" who cats junk food and never plays outside.
After a lecture from his mother, he falls into a dream
SHERRY SIMMONS of South Brunswick High and iMurel Keesee of West Brunswick High leave in
dividual school spirit behind to concentrate on spreading a positive message to fellow students.
and learns, like Ebenezer Scroogc, to mend his bad
"We'll definitely have modern music," Robin Wilson
of South Brunswick High said, as part of putting togeth
er a presentation more likely to gain the attention and re
spcct of other teenagers.
"It's real cool," Miss Lester said of the show and the
students organizing it.
Participating from each school arc:
West Brunswick ? Beth Caison, Tim Palmer, Ham
ilton Lee, LaGrant Evans, Chad Gray, Wcndi Moore,
Patrick Hughes, Amy Mint/., Laurel Kecsee, Ebony
Grissett and Heather Home, with health occupations
teacher Jeanctte Minf. as advisor.
South Brunswick ? Brandon Vannoy. Robin Wilson,
Ernest Tooley, Kcrri Knight, Sherry Simmons, Steph
anie Johnson, Cleda Maggard, Becky Bridges, Ingrid
Reaves, Jimmy Simon, Terri Smith, Todd Vice, Marsha
Huskey and Tom Huskey, with Principal Sue Sellers as
North Brunswick ? Amy Medlin, Julian Bryant,
Stephanie Gancy, Crystal Lester, Todd Neeley, George
Bcasley, Sharrod James, Swaun Gibbs, Brian Housand,
Adrian Black, Dwain Waddell, Monica Riggins, April
Gancy, Amber Simmons, Jimmy Flamer, Dawn Sholar
and Cassandra Pierce and Spanish teacher Kay
Abeyounis as advisor.
Wellness Is New School System
BY DORI COSGROVE GURGANUS
Rita Hatcher wants everyone in
Brunswick County to live a long,
healthy, confident, happy life.
Sounds like a lot to ask?
Well maybe, but if this newly-appointed
wellness coordinator for the county school
system has anything to say about it, at least
the local high school students will be ex
posed to her proposed program.
"I want kids to have the option of getting
high from exercise," Ms. Hatcher says en
thusiastically of her plans.
Those plans call for wellness programs to
be implemented at all three local high
schools and for them to provide aerobics
classes, nutrition seminars, substance abuse
clinics and motivational counseling to any
student who wants to participate.
Ms. Hatcher has also decided that for this
to work for teenagers, she'd better have fel
low high school students teaching their
peers what they've learned. All of this goes
into her goal of making wellness fun for
"1 want kids to be high on health. 1 want
it to be run by young people and I really
want the kids to launch the program," she
"Chemical highs arc so expensive and so
short," the wellness coordinator says re
garding the rebellious nature of teenage
drug experimentation. "If you get into
something that's bad for you, you're just
going to lose." I
"If you're healthy you look better, you
have more control and more confidence,
and you're definitely not as depressed," she
Her plaas also include changing school
lunch menus to offer more low-fat, nutri
"Start 'em young," Ms. Hatcher says,
"because this is going to make them feel
better for the rest of their lives."
Such a program, she says, will also help
students make higher grades and perform
more confidently in their classes. "One just
compliments the other," she predicted.
She has joined with Nelson Best, county
school athletic director; Bobby Jones, direc
tor of the county parks and recreation de
partment; and Mary Russ, county home
economics agent, as well as local fitness
clubs to look into training teenagers to help
Once that training is accomplished, the
plan can be put into action at each high
school. The students wellness trainees will
report to Ms. Hatcher's committee for ad
vice and evaluations of the program.
A big part of it, she adds, is to make sure
WORKING TO MAKE Brunswick County students healthier and more confident, Rita Hatcher (left) talks to Mark Jones
about using a local fitness club to train high school students to teach their peers about exercise and good health.
that nobody feels left behind or that they
can't handle exercise or chemical with
"It will be designed to fit you and your
limitations," Ms. Hatcher says of plans to
make participation easy. "And ! want it to
be something that kids will enjoy with mu
sic and friends around them."
The first siep was to present her plan to
the Brunswick County Board of Education
at its meeting in early March.
And did they react as she hoped they
"I've heard nothing but positive feed
back," Ms. Hatcher says, "In fact, the chair
man (Donna Baxter) called me the very
next morning. She seems real sold on the
Ms. Baxter, Ms. Hatcher says, urged her
to try for funding on the state level to sup
port the program and also encouraged her to
spend as much lime as possible in the
"We both just want to make sure that
everything is taught correctly. And 1 really
want this to be the kids' program, not
mine," Ms. Hatcher explains, "So I will be
in close contact."
The enthusiastic wellness coordinator
takes her plea this week to Raleigh to talk
to Sam Judge of the Alcohol and Drug
Defense office of the slate Department of
Ms. Halciicr will apply for funding for
her program, but says she'll find a way to
implement it on the schoolwide level even
if she doesn't get a dime.
She had hoped to be able to provide
classes and seminars for teachers as well as
members of the community, but "I'm going
to get it going in the schools the first year,"
she says firmly.
By starting with young people, hopefully
the word about healthy living will spread to
adults and older people, Ms. Hatcher says.
"I wani this to be a whole pattern of life.
Health is the positive result of a life enthu
Who can argue with that sort of mes