Meet the 2021 STAR Awards

The COVID-19 pandemic kept kids learning at home and disrupted learning in just about every possible way. As a result, most of the usual Tar Wars presentations didn’t happen in 2020 or 2021, nor did the annual poster contest for either school year. Despite the obstacles created when schools were closed during COVID-19 pandemic or outside visitors restricted, some dedicated family physicians, medical students and local elementary schools kept the important lessons about tobacco prevention coming for their students.

University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria family physicians and medical students taught Tar Wars virtually at Concordia Lutheran School, St. Mary’s Catholic School, and Peoria Academy. Students then had the option to design posters about the positives of living tobacco and nicotine free. Each school selected a poster contest winner both in 2020 and 2021. Though a bit delayed by the realities of the pandemic, these students are finally receiving recognition for their achievements.

The six students’ winning posters were turned into a billboard which was displayed in Peoria at 1728 Sheridan Rd during the month of July. The students, their families and the family physicians were able to meet up at the billboard for a photo opportunity on July 19. The Tar Wars program presented each of them with a STAR AWARD for their dedication during the pandemic. Each student received a Target gift card and the Family Medicine Interest Group at the medical school received a grant to support their ongoing Tar Wars efforts.

Accepting for the University of Illinois College of Medicine is Dr. Asim Jaffer, professor of family medicine and also a past president of the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians and Dr. Craig Griebel, who is the faculty advisor of the medical school’s family medicine interest group. FMIG leaders Isaac Ngo and Jacob Richardson gave the presentation to students at St. Mary’s Catholic School and Concordia Lutheran School, while Dr. Jaffer did the honors for Peoria Academy, where his children attend school. Leah Beth VanBlaricum, the past president of the FMIG who just began her one year term as the co-student board member on the IAFP Board of Directors was also able to attend the honors at the billboard meeting.
Students whose artwork is featured on the billboard are:
Peoria Academy – Sara Zaid and Sommer Jaffer.
St. Mary’s Catholic School – Nathan Counsil and Lydia Maloof.
Concordia Lutheran School – Shelby Flemming and Emma Roger. (unable to attend)

Full group 5 students
Meanwhile Rochester Intermediate School also kept the Tar Wars tradition for their fifth graders and also submitted posters for their school. Walker Hanna and Valcan Nguyen also received gift cards and their school received a grant for the science department which has taught Tar Wars every year since 2011.

The Family Health Foundation of Illinois thanks the Outdoor Advertising Association of Illinois for donating the billboard space and Pfizer Charitable Trust for their grant support to the Tar Wars this year. Tar Wars is a tobacco and nicotine prevention program from the American Academy of Family Physicians. The classroom lesson is updated every year to reflect changes in the tobacco industry, including new products such as e-cigarette, vaping devices and more. Tar Wars has been implemented by the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians’ Family Health Foundation of Illinois since 1999. For more information visit our main Tar Wars website.