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Girls Inc. members spend day learning about effects of smoking

April 09, 2010
Submitted photo,

If you were driving down Washington Avenue March 24 around 5:30 p.m., you might have seen something unusual outside of Girls Inc. of Washington County.

There, you would have found a group of girls holding a sign notifying drivers of the fact that 50 Americans die every single hour from tobacco-related diseases.

Along with this statistic was a plea for readers who smoke to stop so that they do not become one of these victims.

This activity, and several others that day, was part of Girls Inc.'s observance of Kick Butts Day.

The girls joined with thousands of youths in every state and around the world to make a difference by living out the Kick Butts Day motto of "Stand OutSpeak Upand Seize Control Against Big Tobacco"

This is an annually celebrated event at Girls Inc. and something that the staff is committed to sharing with the girls as they follow their mission to encourage all girls to be strong, smart and bold.

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Inside the building, there were many other interactive stations in which the girls participated. Through various activities, the girls were exposed to aspects of tobacco use and its effects. One station shocked the girls by showing them the toxic ingredients that are found in cigarettes and how they affect people's bodies. Another game quizzed them on other trivia related to smoking giving them additional information. There was also a station that highlighted the financial price of smoking by showing how much is taken out of your income when a person buys cigarettes.

Events in the gym were used to support a healthy skepticism of the marketing of the tobacco industry. One activity involved a look at the advertisements that are used to promote smoking. These ads were then taped to bowling pins that the girls were required to knock down.

The main event, though, was the boxing match that pitted the girls against a staff member representing a tobacco executive. The girls used foam batons to hit the executive as a way to fight back against someone who is trying to get them to use tobacco.

The girls were also encouraged to pass the word on to other people they know who smoke. This was part of the purpose of the human billboard outside to speak to those driving by.

The girls also created a powerful graffiti banner inside at one station that included more pictures and arguments from the girls for reasons not to smoke. It also was a place for girls to name people they know who smoke that they pledge to encourage to stop and also honor those they have lost to tobacco-related diseases.

Some girls also jumped at the chance to write moving letters to their loved ones who smoke pleading with them to stop so that they do not get sick and can be around to take care of them.

All of these activities were provided to raise awareness with the girls in hopes that they themselves could live healthier lives in the future by not starting to smoke.

The girls are also an important piece in spreading the word to their friends and family, who can affect them through secondhand smoke or even their absence should they become one of the 50 victims per hour of tobacco use.

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