Healthy people, families, and communities.



Cherokee Youth Council Members at YES training Jan. 16 2016 4-webCanton, GA – A dynamic youth group in Cherokee County is on a mission. The Cherokee Youth Council, an initiative of Drug Free Cherokee, is a powerful and diverse set of teen leaders who are committed to making a difference in their communities. Their mission is to create a healthier future for Cherokee County by being a voice, taking action, and making positive changes at the local level.

A major focus for the group is the prevention and cessation of tobacco use, which includes tobacco prevention advocacy. Council members recently devoted a Saturday to learning skills in advocating for tobacco-free policies and environmental changes that could make their communities a healthier place. The training, held on January 16 at the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center in Canton, was provided by Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!). YES! is a national nonprofit organization that equips youth and their adult allies with the tools they need to positively impact adolescent health.

Adult leaders in attendance included Cherokee County resident and Georgia PTA President Lisa-Marie Haygood, JoAnne Hammermaster, the Health and Wellness chair for Georgia PTA, and Cherokee County resident Kirby Lewis-Hobba of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta.

The training also included an inspirational talk from local resident Janice Hayes of Greater Atlanta Voice Masters. Hayes underwent a laryngectomy after 32 years of smoking and a diagnosis of laryngeal cancer.

“Since my diagnosis several years ago,” said Hayes, “I have chosen to be a very vocal advocate against smoking and all forms of tobacco use.” She has spoken to a wide variety of groups about the serious consequences of using tobacco.

And, indeed, the consequences are quite serious.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) 2015 Georgia Tobacco Use Surveillance Report, over 10,000 adult Georgians die from smoking-related illnesses each year, and approximately 14,000 (4%) middle school students and 53,000 (13%) high school students in Georgia smoke cigarettes.1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that nicotine poses dangers to pregnant women and fetuses, children and adolescents. Youth use of nicotine in any form, including Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (also called ENDS, which includes e-cigarettes and vaping devices), is unsafe.2

As a result of the YES! training, the Cherokee Youth Council combined its previous knowledge of health with new knowledge of the dangers of tobacco use and advocacy for change to create an action plan of tobacco-free advocacy events and presentations.

“Teens are the leaders of tomorrow,” said Marcos Gomez, an 11th grader at Sequoyah High School who participated in the training. “We must enlighten teens and adults about what is happening to their bodies and to our environment due to the effects of tobacco use.”


Cherokee Youth Council: The Cherokee Youth Council provides youth from different communities, backgrounds, religions, ethnicities and economic levels an opportunity to work together and seek positive change for Cherokee County. For more information about the Cherokee Youth Council, log onto

Drug Free Cherokee: Drug Free Cherokee is a grouping of concerned citizens, local business, youth, law enforcement, government agencies, alcohol and substance abuse related organizations to develop a strategic plan that addresses the needs of Cherokee County related to substance abuse prevention.

Youth Empowered Solutions: Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) is a North Carolina-based nonprofit that empowers youth, in partnership with adults, to create community change. YES! equips youth and their adult allies with the tools they need to positively impact adolescent health. YES! advocacy work is centered on strategies that empower youth to address critical issues facing their communities: teen tobacco use, childhood obesity, substance abuse and access to health care. For more information,



1 2015 Georgia Tobacco Use Surveillance Report, Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH):

2  Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems: Key Facts, CDC Office on Smoking and Health, July 2015:

Buckle Up Right, Every Trip, Every Time 

NORTH GEORGIA – Several county health departments in the North Georgia Health District were awarded the 2016 Car Seat Mini-Grant by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Injury Prevention Program. Through the Mini-Grant, health departments and collaborating community partners are able to work together to provide car seats and education to financially eligible families in Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties!

This program is funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help ensure Georgia’s children are safe while riding in motor vehicles.

Debra Thomas of the Fannin County Health Department inspects Parker Lees car seat to ensure it is properly installed-forWebAnd it works! Since 2007, the education, car seats and booster seats provided through the Mini Grant prevented serious injury or death and saved at least 303 of Georgia’s children who were involved in crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children ages 1 to 4 years in passenger cars. Car seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, and they are most effective when installed and used correctly. Nearly three out of every four car seats are not used properly, placing children at unnecessary risk.

Keeping children safe is vital, and the Car Seat Mini-Grant is a great opportunity for communities to help protect kids from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes.

In Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties, the Mini-Grant is enabling public health departments and their partners to educate parents and caregivers on how to properly install and use car seats, offer car seat inspections and provide car seats and booster seats to financially eligible families. Through the Car Seat Mini-Grant, agencies supporting more than 130 counties are working to keep Georgia’s children safe. These programs help families get their children buckled up right, every trip, every time.

For more information about the car seat program in North Georgia, contact the Fannin, Gilmer, GOHS Logo 2
Murray, Pickens or Whitfield County health department (health department numbers can be found by clicking on LOCATIONS tab above). If you would like information regarding other counties involved in the program, please contact the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Child Occupant Safety Project via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at (404) 679-0500.

Dogs are unvaccinated
Morganton, GA Fannin County Environmental Health officials announced that three local dogs fought and killed a raccoon that has now tested positive for rabies.
Shannon Bradburn, local environmental health specialist, stated that a Morganton resident, living near Loving Road in the Hemptown Creek area, called his office Monday, January 11 to report that the incident between the dogs and raccoon occurred outside the residence on Sunday, January 10.
Bradburn investigated the incident and found there had been no human contact with the raccoon but also discovered the dogs had not been vaccinated against rabies.
Animal Control was contacted to pick up the raccoon on Monday. It was then prepared for testing by a local veterinarian and shipped to the Georgia Public Health Laboratory later that day.
Confirmation that the raccoon tested positive for rabies was reported to Bradburn in the afternoon of Tuesday, January 12.
Bradburn and other staff have canvassed the neighborhood with information about the incident.
Since the dogs were not vaccinated for rabies, the owner must now decide whether to place them in a double-fenced enclosure for six months quarantine or have the dogs euthanized.
“The best way to protect against rabies is to maintain rabies vaccinations in your pets,” said Bradburn. “Also, never approach any animal if you do not know whether it is currently vaccinated.”
For more information about rabies and rabies prevention, contact the Fannin County Environmental Health office at (706) 632-3024 or log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website at

North Georgia Are you protected from the flu? *According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity is increasing in the U.S., and the usual time for flu season to peak is just ahead. The best way to protect against the flu is with a flu shot. Vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and time missed from work and school due to the flu, and a shot can prevent flu-related hospitalizations. 

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for protection to set in, so now is the perfect time to get vaccinated! 

North Georgia Health District public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties have flu vaccine and no appointment is necessary. Please contact your local health department for more information:

  • Cherokee: Canton (770) 345-7371 / Woodstock (770) 928-0133
  • Fannin (706) 632-3023
  • Gilmer (706) 635-4363
  • Murray (706) 695-4585
  • Pickens (706) 253-2821
  • Whitfield (706) 279-9600 

For more information about flu and its prevention, log onto


*Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):