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Tobacco Awareness Offered At Adelante
This team of five including one staff member and four student volunteers were prepping themselves for a relay that included a mouth full of soda and cookies. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Bringing awareness of the dangers of tobacco to the students at Adelante High School took precedence at an assembly on Friday at the campus where the leadership class led by Advisor Kristi Santos had an informative afternoon planned.

Stanislaus County Office of Education has a program called PHAST (Protecting Health and Slamming Tobacco) pronounced as “fast” which is a youth coalition organizing peer education and advocacy projects in schools and communities across Stanislaus County.

As a PHAST advisor, Santos organized the assembly to inform students of “the impact of big tobacco in Hollywood,” and “through with chew, the dangers of smokeless tobacco.”

“The project is intended to be both informative and fun,” said Santos. “The PHAST program really provides a great opportunity to involve students with learning about the dangers of tobacco.”

The beautiful sunny day provided the perfect weather for the outside activities that the students at Adelante participated in. During brunch students engaged in a bowling activity at their leisure to “strike-out” tobacco in films. Each participating student read a fact for example, “each day, more than 3,200 people under 18 smokes their first cigarette and approximately 2,100 youth and young adults become daily smokers” out loud and then proceeded to bowl.

“A lot of time goes into preparing for the assembly,” added Santos. “Leadership students research and choose the information they present, therefore, they actually have at least 10 hours invested in studying to prep for the assembly.”

The assembly began with leadership students Alondra Silva-Moreno, Jonathan Carillo, and Marco Cisneros-Morales sharing some facts on tobacco in Hollywood.

“Hollywood has been targeted by tobacco since the beginning of film making,” said Silva. “Tobacco companies pay big bucks to place their products in films.”

“You know, in our discussions, we coined a phrase that ended up on one of our fliers: “Don’t buy the lie,” stated Santos. “We want students to know tobacco and Hollywood are playing us as fools.

“Tobacco kills. If we can enlighten more people with this message, we can influence more people, especially our youth, to avoid the disease and suffering tobacco inevitably brings.”

The second group of students consisted of Alexis Avila, Karissma Nava, Alfonso Vasquez, and Kevin Arzola were part of the “through with chew committee.”

Leadership student David Bondarenko was the master of ceremonies and Victoria Wright passed out bags containing information to all students in attendance.

The assembly wrapped with a relay race called “Lose the Chew” where there were two teams of five individuals including students and staff. Each participant had to chew up a cookie and swig some soda, then run a few feet to a table where they emptied the contents in a bowl.

This was to simulate what it would taste like to have chewing tobacco in your mouth and how disgusting it is.

A couple teachers participated in the relay as did District Superintendent Daryl Camp, along with the student volunteers.

Each relay participant had a plastic bag to cover their clothes just in case a mess occurred and they were given a pair of sunglasses as an incentive.

“Our students are the future, often times they are quiet or shy,” expressed Santos. “Opportunities like those provided by PHAST allow these students a chance to experience leadership skills, learn more of what they can do, and at the same time open conversations about the dangers of tobacco. PHAST is a great county program, run by some very talented people, some of whom attended the assembly today.

“If our messages can make our youth stop and think, and not light up, we have victory.”