Teens Deliver Strong Message to Younger Students

“That’s what tobacco use does to your lungs,” said TKHS student Killian Dudley as he continued pumping the lung full of air.

Dudley and other students are members of Thornapple Kellogg High School Teens Against Tobacco Use. Each year the members are trained through the Barry County Substance Abuse Prevention Services. The students visit Page Elementary students to talk about and demonstrate the effects of tobacco and nicotine use on a person’s body and encourage students not to start using tobacco or nicotine products.

“I don’t use tobacco products because I play sports and I need my lungs to be healthy,” said high school student Keanna Dudik introducing herself to younger students. Her counterparts delivered similar messages of reasons for not smoking.

During the presentation, high school students provided examples, demonstrations and lessons on the risks of tobacco use including smoking cigarettes and vaping.

Mitchell Corner stood in front of a fourth-grade class wearing a bright pink t-shirt. Felt lungs were added to the shirt to show what healthy lungs look like and what happens to them with the effects of tobacco use. The lungs changed from pink to grayish black, the tiny air sacs within the lungs called alveoli  turned black and even his nose hairs (pipe cleaners dangling from sunglasses) shriveled up from the tobacco effects.

High School students told their younger audience that it’s best not to ever start smoking or vaping, reminding students that nicotine can become addictive and hard to quit once started. They also showed students how the body begins to heal itself once nicotine and tobacco are eliminated.

They discussed the many harmful types of chemicals that can be found in cigarettes, vapes or both, filling a  large cardboard cigarette and vaping device with the harmful ingredients.

Page students also did a little math work to understand the cost of smoking or vaping. They multiplied the cost of one pack of cigarettes a day to what it would cost for a full week, month and year and realized they would save a lot of money without a cigarette habit.

TATU is a program of Barry County Substance Abuse Prevention Services/BCCMHA and is funded in part by the Barry Community Foundation, Tobacco Settlement Funds.  TKHS TATU is coordinated by Ross Lambitz and Jaime Nelson, TKHS Counselors. TATU has been an active student organization at TK since 2001.