Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kick Butts Day

In its fifteenth year, Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers the youth to speak up and take action against Big Tobacco. The way Kick Butts Day works is that anyone can organize an event or activity that calls attention to the problems caused by smoking. By taking advantage of this day, we can raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use. And that is exactly what I did. T.E.A.C.H., Tobacco Education Awareness for Children's Health, has been my platform for nine years and continues to be an adequate tool in educating the youth on the dangers of smoking. T.E.A.C.H provides advocacy and activism in tobacco prevention, giving children the confidence to say "NO" to the peer pressures of smoking. Since this is an event dedicated to children, I thought it would be a great idea to present my platform to two separate groups of children.

Part one of my day began at Moore Catholic High School. I was invited to speak to the whole student body about my platform. I felt that it was vital for me to reach out to high school teens because this is where the peer pressure starts. Cigarettes act as the "gateway drug" in high school and even junior high school. This means that cigarettes are the first substance teens and preteens experiment with. Shockingly, ninety percent of smokers begin between the ages of 12-17. I distributed my brochures to the students so they could refer back to the facts about smoking. I was satisfied at how receptive they were to my program. They even had the chance to ask me some questions about the dangerous consequences, the program, and even my own experience with peer pressure (I was fourteen when I was first approached by a peer but confidently said "NO" to smoking and was never asked again) .

Moore Catholic High School Students
After the assembly, I headed across the street to a Girl Scout meeting to present my platform in a different format. I spoke to Girl Scout Brownie Troop #5287, whose members range in ages 6-8. The focus of the high school students was to educate the non-smokers to continue to live a smoke free live, and the smokers to help them see why smoking is dangerous to their health and ultimately convince them to quit. With the Brownies, I focused on teaching them about the harmful effects of smoking and why it is important to never start. They were a bright bunch of girls who already knew that smoking was dangerous, however, were not aware of the reasons why cigarettes are so harmful to our bodies. They participated in a coloring activity that shows the transformation from a healthy, non-smoker's lung into a defective, smoker's lung. That activity was an eye opener for the girls because they were able to understand exactly how the lungs deteriorate after years of smoking.
Today was just one of many successful appearances I have made promoting my platform and spreading the awareness of anti-smoking. Protecting our bodies from damaging substances needs to be a priority especially with the youth. I am proud to say that children ranging in all ages are taking my message to heart. They are taking that promise to never start smoking, not just to protect themselves, but to protect and respect the well-being of others.

Speaking to the Girls Scouts

Brownie Troop #5287

Girl Scout Leader Chris Chuklas