4H program shows perils of smoking
Feb 27, 2013 | 396 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Herald Ledger Staff

One by one, the elementary students of Lyon

County Schools fi led silently into the Conference

Room on the Lyon County campus on both Thursday

and Friday.

It was enough for them to see the older students,

their role models — the ones they think are so grown

up and cool. But, it was quite another to see the row

of high school students standing silently in front of

displays that could only be described as disgusting.

After the younger children took their seats, eagerly

awaiting to see and hear, the high school students

stood still and silent with their backs toward

their younger charges.

Finally, as the session opened, the high school

students turned and introduced themselves and

repeated the pledge that they had already taken:

“I choose not to smoke or use tobacco in any way,

because ... ”

One by one, they told their story to a rapt audience;

there was a young man with a heart condition,

a dirt bike rider, and a runner. There was a

cheerleader, a singer, and a young lady who wore


One slowly turned and shared how he had lost his

grandfather to lung cancer, and a young lady who

loves to ride horses explained how athletic one has

to be to participate in such an activity.

A basketball player explained how hard it is to

stay in top shape, and a 4-H offi cer explained that

offi cers choose not to use tobacco.

A piano player explained how her

hands and fi ngers were part of her talent,

and she dare not stain them yellow

or have them discolored in any way.

As part of the program, the thirdand

fourth-graders were shown models

of how tobacco use would affect their

lungs, their circulatory system, their

teeth, and their appearance.

Each high school student explained

several times that “smokers are not

bad people — that they just made a bad

choice at one point in their lives.” They

explained how addictive tobacco can be

and that judging people for their use

of tobacco is just as wrong as bullying

someone about anything else.

The students were given shirts to take

home, along with a sticker they wore

proudly for the rest of the day in order

to open a discussion with any family

members who may be caught in tobacco


Wanda Paris, Lyon 4-H Youth agent,

was all smiles at the program presented

by the high school 4-H students,

directed toward the third- and fourthgraders.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” Paris said


The “Teens Against Tobacco Use” is a

program that has been ongoing in Lyon

schools for 13 years. It is a part of the

American Lung Association’s tobacco

education program that seeks to train

other trainers to present informational

programs to young people, so that when

they are approached by someone with:

“Do you want a cigarette? or would you

like a smoke?” their answer will be, ‘No,


The teen mentoring program has

been much more successful in reaching

the young people than any chapter in a

health book, statistics show.

The group has given presentations

not only to elementary classes, but

also to the Explorer Club, and during

a Wellness Day activity in Livingston

County. They reached more than 1000

young people.

“Several grants have made the funding

possible for the shirts, stickers, and

some of the more expensive displays,”

Paris said, “but, it was pulled together

by this bunch of kids, and they have

done a tremendous job.”
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