03/06/05 — Professionals hope sight of diseased lungs will deter middle-schoolers from smoking

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Professionals hope sight of diseased lungs will deter middle-schoolers from smoking

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 6, 2005 2:00 AM

Sixth-grade students at Norwayne Middle School watched in awe as Dr. Gool Gupta held up plastic bags containing human lungs that had been damaged by cancer and emphysema.

"Don't think that if you smoke, this won't happen to you," she said, pointing to a blackened lung.

The lung specimens, taken from cadavers and acquired from East Carolina University, have proved an effective tool in convincing students to think twice before lighting up a cigarette, said Dr. Gupta of Wayne Heart and Internal Medicine.

"They come out believing that's what could happen to their lungs," she said.

"Peer pressure is hard," said Anie Dunn, a nurse at Edgewood Community Devel-opmental School, "but when you actually see the diseased lung and what smoking does to the inside of the body, that makes an impact on the students."

Ms. Dunn and Dr. Gupta introduced CHART, which stands for Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens, at Goldsboro Middle School in 1999. This year, Norwayne officials requested their school also be included in the program.

Materials for the six-week program are targeted at sixth-graders, Ms. Dunn said. Discussions are held on alcohol abuse, violence prevention, sexual abstinence and smoking prevention.

"It's very important to reach these kids at that age level before they get started into these bad habits," she said, "so that we might prevent illness and help them be a more productive adult."

At the outset, the program was sponsored by the North Carolina Medical Society,
Ms. Dunn said. When Dr. Gupta brought it to Wayne County, volunteers were sought from the hospital, as well as school nurses and physicians.

"The Medical Society said we were welcome to continue using their information, videos, games, and open discussion," she said.

Response to the classes from principals, teachers and students has been very positive, Dr. Gupta said. When the program was introduced, leaders relied on a pre-test and post-test to measure how much students learned.

"We have been impressed by the retention of the students," Ms. Dunn said. "We were satisfied that we were touching the students, making a difference."

Now, she says, they rely on feedback from the students and teachers.

"During the review and party," she said, "we actually play a bingo game and ask questions that test their retention."

This year, the program was offered in the fall at Goldsboro Middle School, with a Nor-wayne session that began in February. Ms. Dunn said no decision has been made about continuing it at Norwayne next year, but it looks promising.

"I would love to see this program go countywide," she said. "But we have to have lots of volunteers.

"It's worthwhile information that's making a difference."