Middle College High Student Group Plans 'Action Week' To Highlight Tobacco Issues
April 10, 2007
A group of San Pablo high school students will go to extraordinary lengths next week to remind their fellow students of how the tobacco industry targets teens.
The group of students at Middle College High School belong to Empowerment Through Action, an after-school program at the campus located at Contra Costa College in San Pablo. The San Pablo youths will be joined by other teens around the state in "Action Week" tobacco awareness activities initiated by the California Youth Advocacy Network.
Action Week activities at Middle College will include chalk body outlines, a petition, a contest to win prizes by throwing a cigarette pack into a mounted illustration of a tobacco company executive, and incense burning to demonstrate the hazards of secondhand smoke. It will conclude with a rally Thursday afternoon to which elected officials from West County communities are invited.
"'Empowerment Through Action' was very active last year in the campaign for the City of Richmond's new Tobacco Retailer Licensing Ordinance," said Jeff Gould, a youth development coordinator with Contra Costa Health Services' TeenAge Program. "That type of ordinance will be the topic of the petition and assorted signage on the campus during Action Week."
Contra Costa County and seven cities in the county have passed ordinances under which retailers selling tobacco must have licenses and are subject to fines or loss of license if caught selling tobacco to minors.
Empowerment Through Action (ETA) is composed of 20 students under the direction of youth organizers Gould, Megan Gasser and Lashonda Williams. The program has been at Middle College High School every year since 2001.
Other activities during ETA Action Week include games, a drawing, wearing black armbands in recognition of those who have died from tobacco use or exposure and wearing green or black pins to signify knowing someone who uses or died from use.
"The students are very committed to this issue. They really respond to things like the ‘Truth Campaign' TV commercials," said Gasser. "They can't wait to wear the armbands and do the chalk outlines."
For more information about Empowerment Through Action or ETA Action Week, call Jeff Gould at 925-313-6437.
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- Ahna Suleiman