Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Event Aims to Kick Butts; Anti-Smoking Effort Begins

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Event Aims to Kick Butts; Anti-Smoking Effort Begins

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher F. Aguilar, Shorelines staff writer

Posters featuring former cigarette icon Joe Camel laying in a hospital bed with the words "Joe Chemo" were strewn across the lobby of the former Atlantic 8 Theatres on Atlantic Boulevard on Friday.

Other posters made by students from the Foundation Academy in Jacksonville Beach showing the dangers of cigarettes also adorned the walls as the school celebrated its "Kick-butt Day."

"We wanted to tell kids, 'Don't smoke' and 'Quit smoking' by exposing that message though hip-hop and karate," said Jenna Wright, director of substance abuse for Project Unity, a Jacksonville-based organization that tries to educate children about such issues.

Wright, a Foundation Academy alumna and organizer of Kick-butt Day, came up with the idea for the youth-geared event after she quit smoking.

"I was a smoker," she said. "And in high school, a lot of people smoke. So we wanted to bring in a program to educate kids at the peer level."

Kick-butt day featured Christian hip-hop group Elementz, karate demonstrations and a speaker educating the students about the dangers of smoking through visual experiments. The youth-centered event let the students learn about the dangers of smoking in an environment outside of the classroom. The school also had students perform science and math experiments in the classroom that complemented Kick-butt Day.

The event also featured contests, including essays, logos, posters and dioramas. The winners received prizes donated by local businesses.

Pam Jeralds, senior health educator with the Duval County Health Department, said 20 percent of middle school students and 30 percent of high school students in Duval County smoke cigarettes.

Wright is trying to start a smoking club at the school for smokers and non-smokers. The objective is to educate students about tactics used by tobacco companies to target youths. The club also would inform smokers about the health dangers of tobacco and encourage them to quit. …

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