Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs High School students Genna Bradley and Brian Aragon said the biggest pressure facing teens in Steamboat relate to alcohol and tobacco use.
The "Own Your C" campaign's street team visited the high school and Steamboat Springs Middle School this week as part of a statewide campaign to address the hard choices teens are faced with. The group takes a nonaggressive and innovative approach to tobacco prevention by encouraging teens to make smart, healthy and educated choices.
From November 2006 through May 2007, the C-Ride-branded ice cream truck is visiting students between the ages of 13 and 18 at about 180 schools across Colorado.
"We try not to be too anti-tobacco because we learned that approach doesn't work as well. We are more laid back and have them come talk to us," said Courtney Gough, event street team member. "We want to see if that way of doing it works better."
Members of the street team hand out stickers, magnets and raffle T-shirts to the students who identify some of the best choices they can make. Examples of these choices the high school students submitted were "not drinking and driving," "helping my brother with his homework" and "going on a Guatemala mission trip."
The State Tobacco Education & Prevention Partnership through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and in partnership with Cactus Marketing Communications, developed the campaign.
Sadat Abbas, field manager of the Own Your C campaign, was a smoker for seven years.
"I'm not trying to judge them, and I know why they do it," he said. "When the teenagers realize we won't turn them in or get them in trouble, they open up to us."
The street team gives out quit kits to those students who identify themselves as tobacco users.
"The kits include gum, a stress ball, cessation cards, and directs them to our Web site where they can sign up for us to send them encouraging text messages," Gough said. "We also have a journal our agents took a year to make that can help them from the very beginning when they pick a quit date. We tried to make it look cool."
Abbas thinks it's important to make an impact on people at a young age.
"A small choice can turn into a big choice because it could affect them in the long run," he said. "Doing it now is easier, and they can save so much money and can get ahead of the game now. I wish I did."
After speaking with the street team, Bradley and Aragon, were impressed with how passionate they were about their mission.
"They are really trying to help out by going to these schools," Bradley said. "They are promoting good choices and a good way to do that is by giving away free stuff."
Next time Bradley is confronted with the choice of whether or not to accept an alcoholic beverage, she will remember the people she met today.
"I might think about this and about how hard these people are trying," she said. "They probably have a good reason behind it."
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