By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: March 2015
Seated from left, NTC EAST program students Rheanna Martin and Kayla Salle display the cover of their comic book “The Upside: Burning Out” designed to educate Rogers County teens about the dangers of smoking. Standing behind the girls are Amy Graham and Alyson Short with Volunteers for Youth.
Did you know that three out of four teenagers who think they will stop smoking in five years don’t? Imitating adults in their lives, including music and screen idols, as well as trying to fit in with the crowd, are the main reasons teens start smoking in the first place. However, Volunteers for Youth, with the help of two Northeast Technology Center students, are working on a campaign to help change that, with a kick-off campaign beginning March 18. Called KICK BUTTS DAY, the national campaign started in 1996 as a day of activism to empower youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco, and was organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Alyson Short, project director for a Drug Free Community, and Amy Graham, project director of Stop Underage Drinking, met two NTC students last September at an event designed to partner students with community agencies needing assistance with their projects. Claremore High School senior Rheanna Martin and Sequoyah High School senior Kayla Sallee were excited about the opportunity to work with Volunteers for Youth to raise awareness of the problem with tobacco use among Rogers County teens.
The two students, who attend the Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) program in the mornings, were looking for a project that would utilize their passions and talents. Rheanna, a former smoker, says, “I love to write, and I saw this as an opportunity to exercise my writing skills and help educate students on how to avoid getting hooked on smoking or how to quit if they’ve already started smoking.”
Combined with Rheanna’s writing skills, Kayla’s passion and talent for art is bringing to fruition the comic book project that Volunteers for Youth was looking for to promote their campaign. “When I learned they wanted a comic book to help educate students about the dangers of smoking,” says Kayla, “I was on board.”
According to Alyson, “We were looking for a new way to get the message across. These girls are very talented and work well together.”
The five-page comic book with nine frames per page or chapter will be printed in an 8 ½ by 11 format to distribute at Rogers County youth leadership conferences, church camps, “and anywhere else a large group of kids will be congregating,” says Alyson.
Next fall, each comic book page will be printed in a large poster format and posted in school halls. “They will then be changed out with a new page leading up to The Great American Smokeout at the end of November,” adds Alyson.
Rheanna and Kayla have become so excited and motivated by the project that it has taken on a life of its own beyond the comic book. “It’s a great experience,” says Rheanna, who is working on expanding the campaign to other types of media, including using YouTube to spread their message.
For more information about the comic book project to educate teens about smoking, contact Amy Graham at eat0@eau0eav0eaw0 or Alyson Short at eat1@eau1eav1eaw1.
For more information, contact
After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.
1810 N. Sioux Ave. Ste. A | Claremore, OK