SAFFORD — About 30 Gila Valley children and teens said no to tobacco, Wednesday.
The youth took part in the annual Kick Butts Day anti-tobacco program, in front of the Graham County Courthouse. Members of Graham County Students Against Destructive Decisions and Pima’s Teen Outreach Program organized a carnival-like event on the front lawn of the court, hoping to inform Graham County residents of all ages about the dangers of tobacco use, while entertaining and amusing them.
“I really love helping and setting a good example,” said event co-coordinator Alondra Torres. “I think it’s important to let other teens know that everyone is not out smoking or doing drugs and that’s okay.”
Torres joined with other Teen Outreach Program participants to attend a series of workshops provided by Students Taking a New Direction in Prescott, as part of the United Health Foundation’s campaign for tobacco-free kids, with support from the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease. After some warm-up team building activities, Torres said the participants were asked to organize and orchestrate all the Kick Butts Day activities, rather than being directed by adults
Teen Outreach Program students demonstrated in front of their classmates and students in younger grades and set up a table with the colorful pledge cards used on Kick Butts Day. Each card bore an anti-smoking message, some expressing the signer’s promise not to start smoking and others a pledge to give up the habit. Students were invited to come to the demonstration and sign whichever pledge was most applicable, and hang it on the six-foot pledge board.
After posting their pledge on the board, attendees at Wednesday’s event were able to participate in several anti-tobacco activities planned by the students, who wore black t-shirts bearing statistics about the number of Arizonans who die from tobacco-related causes.
One table held anti-tobacco literature and plastic models showing the effects of smoking on the mouth and lungs, participants were invited to blow bubbles instead of smoke, there were free crayon packs and coloring pages for younger children, and a bean bag toss, dart throw and parachute game.
Popular music was in the air throughout, but when the teen group’s favorite song began playing, all seven black-shirted teen volunteers initiated a flash mob.
“These kids just have fun everywhere they go,” said Safford Mayor Chris Gibbs. “It’s great to see them setting this kind of example.”
Kick Butts Day was sponsored locally by the Mount Graham Regional Medical Center and the Graham Alliance on Tobacco Education Program.
For more information, contact Toni Burress at 928-348-8774 or visit