SWAT students played educational carnival games, and enjoyed food, drinks, and prizes, showing big tobacco companies that they wont be targeted as future tobacco users.
SWAT students from Blair, Navajoe, Duke, Olustee, Eldorado, AIS, AJS, and AHS, celebrated “Kick Butts Day,” at the Altus Community Center on Thursday, March 26, at from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., to educate each other about the harmful effects of tobacco use. There were also health organizations there providing public health checks and surveys.
At the “Kick Butts Event,” organized by the Community of Excellence in Tobacco Control and Students Working Against Tobacco, SWAT members played various team developed educational carnival games.
SWAT kids drilled a soccer ball into cigarette butts made out of two liter bottles, in Navajoe “Kicking the Habit.” They pitched a fast ball into a pyramid of aluminum can cigarettes stacked up by Altus Intermediate School, to “Knock Down Tobacco,” and shot old dip containers through a basketball net and into a trash barrel below, at the Olustee “Dip Toss.”
Altus Junior High school SWAT had the “Best Guess” game to guess how many cigarettes were in a one gallon jar, and Altus High School SWAT had an educational bean bag toss.
Duke SWAT had players throwing darts at balloons board, trying to pop the balloon that said “Big Tobacco,” and Blair SWAT had a basketball style game with tobacco quiz questions,
Eldorado SWAT, “pin the ingredient” like Some played “Pin the Ingredient,” where the goal was to pin a dangerous tobacco ingredient on a board of a cigarette picture, blinded folded, like the popular party game, “pin the tail on the donkey.”
Community of Excellence in Tobacco Control Coordinator, Tonya Pogue, says that the kids were encouraged to put together an educational carnival game and to use their originality.
The carnival games were symbolical, explained Kendra Whitaker, SWAT Coordinator and Assistant Coordinator of Community of Excellence. “This is a chance for youths to stand up against tobacco companies to say they don’t want to be targeted.”
Tobacco companies target teens because they know they are most susceptible to advertising, Whitaker explained. “Just look at the packaging,” she said, pointing out that the colors and graphics tobacco advertisers use is no mistake.
SWAT stands for Students Working Against Tobacco, Whitaker explained. “The goal is three-fold. To teach youths about tobacco so they can be good activists, educate them enough for peer to peer education, and to be good leaders overall.”
As a subcommittee of JCCHAT, the Community of Excellence in Tobacco Control promotes tobacco education for kids and seeks to help adults quit using tobacco products. They also communicate with businesses to adopt a smoke free workplace.
“Our program was established to educate the youth so they’re not replacements of tobacco users,” Pogue said. “We want kids to realize no matter what age they are, they make a difference. We encourage them to find something good, and important to believe in. We want them to know what advocacy looks like from an early age.”
Pogue informed that kids and teens are discovering how tobacco companies spend millions of dollars on researching and marketing to entice kids because they know that teens can be easily influenced.
The Community of Excellence also encourages each teen or adolescent to have a personal tobacco story about someone they know who was affected by tobacco use. It reminds them why they are advocating for tobacco prevention, and can be an effective, non-offensive way to educating their peers.
The Jackson County Memorial Hospital was also there to support the fight against tobacco companies by giving free blood pressure readings, blood glucose checks, and B.M.I. tests. The Jackson County Health Department and The State Health Department, were there with surveys and giving away free tote bags.
Contributions were also made by McDonald’s and Wal-Mart.