Soda Creek Elementary School 5th-graders create anti-smoking presentation
May 2, 2010
Steamboat Springs — On Thursday, a group of fifth-graders heard an anti-smoking presentation.
It wasn't a prepared by a teacher, but rather by three fifth-graders who wanted to share with their peers what they had learned about smoking, its hazards and why people shouldn't do it.
Naomi Kline's students Morgan Reynolds, Keala Fraioli and Sierra Good gave their presentation, "Smoking Stinks," to their peers in Anna White's fifth-grade class at Soda Creek Elementary School in Steamboat Springs.
They said about 20 percent of fourth- and fifth-graders have taken a puff and thousands of youths ages 12 to 19 smoke each day in the United States.
But they also talked about how smoking causes cancer and other respiratory diseases. They said smoking kills 1,200 people every day in the United States.
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The girls said many people start because they think it makes them look good.
"Trust us," Morgan said, "it doesn't."
They implored their peers to not succumb to peer pressure and to never start smoking.
Morgan, Keala and Sierra said they decided to put together the presentation after participating in Tar Wars, a national tobacco-free education program for elementary school students, a few weeks ago.
During one of the lessons, the girls were shown a picture of a cancerous lung.
"It was disgusting," Morgan said. "Everyone went, 'Eww.' It looked like a giraffe with all the spots."
The girls said they participated in other activities to simulate what it would be like if they smoked. One had them breathing through straws to demonstrate how difficult that would be if they smoked. From there, they decided to do some research.
"The more we started studying, the more we wanted to share," Keala said.
After Tar Wars, the students did a lesson connecting what they had learned about smoking with how it affects the respiratory system, student teacher Andrew Lescht said.
Lescht said Morgan, Keala and Sierra took it upon themselves to create a banner, fliers and eventually the presentation.
"Going into middle school next year, the anxiety and peer pressure, even in our town, the pressure is still out there," Lescht said. "Kids are going to try smoking cigarettes."
Principal Judy Harris said the girls' work wasn't prompted by the realization that smoking is an issue among students at Soda Creek. But Harris said she was impressed by the girls' initiative to inform their peers about the dangers of smoking.
"I love the fact that our kids have ownership in something they have passion about and they can share that with some other kids in school, from a leadership perspective," she said.
After the presentation, Morgan, Keala and Sierra said their research led to them to a conclusion. They'll never smoke, they said.
"It helped me because I definitely won't smoke," Sierra said. "I know more about it and know what it will do to me."
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