Teens Mentor Younger Students About Tobacco Dangers

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Landing Elementary School students were treated to an important life lesson by a group of mentors from Finley Middle School. In conjunction with national Kick Butts Day, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, 10 eighth graders who comprise Finley Middle School’s Teens as Teachers (TAT) Club, visited Landing School to educate the youngsters on the importance of making educated decisions when it comes to tobacco use, and to teach them about its addictive and destructive nature.

To prepare for the lesson, TAT members underwent a day of training with school health policy specialists from Western Suffolk BOCES. They then designed an age-appropriate lesson, incorporating a physical component to keep the elementary students captivated and active. Under the direction of Finley health and physical education teacher Anthony Gallo, TAT students conducted their lesson in the Landing all-purpose room, assembling into small groups for an intimate Q & A/game of catch before launching a series of movement-centered games that had the Landing youngsters bustling around the room in an organized manner. Movements during games such as “Tobacco Tag,” were based on student responses to various questions and cues about tobacco use that reinforced the day’s discussions and provided them with a fun new way to exercise.

According to North Shore LIJ Health System’s Center for Tobacco Control, between 90 and 95 percent of all adult smokers started between the ages of 11 and 12. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each day approximately 3,450 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 smoke their first cigarette and 850 adolescents become daily cigarette smokers. Now in its sixteenth year, Kick Butts Day activities continue to work to reduce these numbers and the 400,000 tobacco-related deaths that occur annually.