Thursday, 21 November 2002 - 9:00 AM
Hilton San Francisco Imperial Ballroom A (390)

This presentation is part of D&D-271. Faith Communities Take Action

Faith Communities Take on Tobacco: Models for Compassion versus Corporate Predators

Rick Bernardo, MA, Professional Performance Programs,

Learning Objectives: Distinguish how faith communities can be vital in environmental approaches to health, and what is likely to engage them in tobacco prevention: how to work with them, motivations and barriers to their involvement, key messages for the variety of faith leaders, and how to build congregational capacity at once with tobacco prevention infrastructure. List results from 2 first-of-a-kind statewide surveys (2000-2002) of clergy knowledge and attitudes on tobacco, and how to use these data and resources in tobacco prevention. Describe the outcomes of a direct, diverse congregational capacity building program with resources, curricula and activities from over 15 congregations, including sample performance art pieces (music, theatre, dance, comedy) delivering tobacco prevention messages.

Abstract: Justice versus racism, compassion versus corporate deceit, life versus death--these matters behind a global tobacco epidemic make up a world in which faith communities have an ongoing concern. Tobacco prevention initiatives have increased faith sector involvement while fostering congregational resources, capacity, and links to critical policy achievements. Whether you’re health professional, organizer, faith leader, congregation member, parent, or funding administrator, history shows faith communities in part weave our fabric of norms.

What motivates congregations to become involved? What stops that from happening? Using slides, handouts, discussion--even music and humor--we'll see inroads, strategies, and activities toward social change. We share 1) strategies to preempt fears of community division and leverage public health work through congregations; 2) results of 2 first-of-a-kind statewide surveys of clergy, showing they care but lack resources; 3) how to plan a direct capacity-building program for congregations ready for tobacco prevention with youth-lead activities; 4) how to introduce the evaluation process to congregations using focus groups, congregational surveys and member testimonies, and 5) sample performance art pieces (music, theatre, dance, comedy) delivering tobacco prevention messages created with Performing Arts Ministry.

Eliminating health disparity means stopping what promotes it, like tobacco industry predatory behavior. Good partnership is bringing the technical resources of public health together with the integrity and power of congregations, to provide a powerful union in saving lives.

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