Williston Park middle-schoolers reach out to peers about smoking risks

April 16, 2013 by  

As part of ‘Kick Butts Day’ – a national tobacco educational day from last month – Williston Park students at St. Aidan’s School turned the school’s gymnasium into an interactive classroom to educate other students at about the serious health dangers smoking and secondhand smoke bring.

Despite nationwide efforts to curb smoking in underage children, over three million people under the age of 18 in the U.S. smoke. Over 3,000 children try their first cigarette each day, and around 1,000 children a day become regular smokers.

Staff from the Center for Tobacco Control, a part of the North Shore/LIJ Health System, taught eighth grade students to be peer educators for the day. The students reached out to others by producing videos that described the risks of smoking, as well as the impact of tobacco commercials and advertising on young teenagers.

The student-produced public service announcements were not the only educational tools on offer, since the gym was full of informational booths. The students might have made use of banner printing to decorate and label each booth, which featured educational games and information stations. One booth had an oversized cigarette that was filled with the dangerous chemicals found in real cigarettes. There was also a mock-tobacco store in the gym, which showed students the true cost of cigarettes.

St. Aidan’s School joined with more than 1,000 other schools all across the U.S. on ‘Kick Butts Day’. The goal of the day is to reach kids when they are most vulnerable to the pressure to start smoking, but before they have actually taken up the habit.