04/28/06 — WATCH coordinator honored as 'Coach of the Year'

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WATCH coordinator honored as 'Coach of the Year'

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 28, 2006 1:50 PM

Rosa Tuckson, WATCH coordinator, has been named "Coach of the Year" for participating in a program that resulted in Clinton City Schools becoming a tobacco-free school system.

In the fall of 2005, Question Why Empowerment Center of Eastern North Carolina presented mini-grants to eight teams to work toward a 100 percent tobacco free school district policy change. Mrs. Tuckson worked with the program for six months as coach of the Clinton team.

Her role included supporting team members in the school system by helping them manage a budget, as well as providing direction and creative ideas to get around barriers and accomplish their goals.

While the issue is gaining momentum among school systems across the state, it remains a controversial topic in North Carolina, a "tobacco state" because of its dependable production value for farmers.

"It's very politically charged for us in many ways, but statewide the push is toward 100 percent (compliance)," said WATCH board member James Roosen, who is also Wayne County Health Director.

Sissy Lee-Elmore, executive director of WATCH, congratulated Mrs. Tuckson on the honor.

"Now that she has done that for another county, we're hoping she can bring that here," she said.

Mrs. Lee-Elmore said the movement is growing in popularity. Out of more than 100 school districts across the state, she estimated there are 70 school systems that have already adopted the tobacco-free policy.

Board Chairman Shirley Sims, who also serves on the Board of Education, said that while efforts have been made within the local school system to curb the use of tobacco products, she would push for stronger measures such as the tobacco-free school program.