Students 'kick butts'

Channel 2 left as Channel 8 arrived at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, and students in Teens Against Tobacco Use excitedly got ready for their second performance of the day.

The television presentations were just one way for students to get the word out about Kick Butts Day, Wednesday. The shows aired Wednesday during the 5 p.m. news on both stations, and also at 6:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. Thursday on Channel 2.

"On Kick Butts Day you try and get most people to stop smoking for at least a day," said ninth-grader Michael Magno, to Kirsten Joyce, morning anchor and School Watch reporter for Channel 2.

The camera was rolling as Michael told Joyce and photographer Zack Patterson that they were all wearing shirts displaying the number "1,200" to signify the number of people in the world who die every day from tobacco-related illnesses.

"My grandma and grandpa on my dad's side and my grandma on my mom's side all died from tobacco-related diseases," said Michael. "My other grandma just recently quit smoking. It was so great. I've been trying to get her to quit for a long time."

Michael explained that it's better to catch someone before they start smoking, and with the age for smokers getting younger all the time, fourth through sixth graders are the ages the students target.

Eighth-grader Sandy Lopez and ninth-graders Cody Tinker and Emily Allison were given their chances in front of the camera.

"I don't like smoking. I think it's disgusting," said Emily. "I would like to make at least one person I know stop smoking."

Emily, Riley Cooper, in seventh grade, and Sierra Malone, in eighth grade, were dressed as grim reapers. Holding up a fake tombstone with a skull on it, they said, "Don't smoke or else you'll end up like this says the grim reapers of Pau-Wa-Lu."

Students at Pau-Wa-Lu and at Douglas High School and Carson Valley Middle School participated in Kick Butts Day. The Douglas County Teens Against Tobacco performed a who-dun-it presentation at Pau-Wa-Lu. This presentation, along with a 10-minute movie on the effects of tobacco use, were presented during lunchtime. A table was set up displaying items like diseased and healthy lungs and a quart of tar. A bulletin board and table display were arranged at Carson Valley Middle School and a bulletin board was created at Douglas High.

"This really is a good message," said Melinda Matus, tobacco education coordinator with the Partnership of Community Resources, the event and program sponsor. "If we can get a few of these kids not to start, it will be all worthwhile."

Kick Butts Day is a nationwide initiative that makes kids leaders in the effort to stop youth tobacco use. As part of the Kick Butts Day celebration, Pau-Wa-Lu, Carson Valley Middle School and Douglas High School students created 1,200 flyers showing an empty pair of sneakers, illustrating that 1,200 pairs of shoes in America are left each day as someone dies of tobacco use.

For Kick Butts Day 2006, students are sending two messages; they want the tobacco industry to stop targeting them with advertising and they want elected leaders at all levels to do more to protect them from tobacco.

For more information about the Kick Butts Day event at Douglas High School, Carson Valley Middle School and Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, call Melinda Matus at the Partnership of Community Resources, 782-8611. For information on the national initiative, visit the Kick Butts Day Web site at


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