Suffolk school kicks bad habits

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Suffolk high school has joined 19 others in Virginia to rid their campuses of smoking and encourage healthy living.

Nansemond River High School participated in “Kick Butts Day” on Wednesday by raising awareness of school policies against tobacco and e-cigarettes. A table in the school cafeteria was organized by members of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth advocacy group Y Street.

The table was covered in stickers and pins recognizing Y Street’s 24/7 campaign to help schools enforce tobacco- and e-cigarette-free policies. Information about the harmful effects of smoking and surveys were also distributed to students and faculty.

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“We’re having them do research about these topics in class,” Nansemond River marketing teacher and Y Street co-advisor Michele Duncan said. “We have them look up the statistics of the benefits of smoking versus not smoking.”

The campaign’s goal is to reach many of the 1,600 Nansemond River students and faculty, and for them to spread the word. Y Street also promotes healthy living by advocating healthier diet choices.

“We’re hoping they’ll take that information home and share it in the community,” Nansemond River marketing teacher and Y Street co-advisor Candace Credle said. “We’re also talking to the teachers about policies and the effects tobacco can have on your community.”

Nansemond River sophomore Taylor Jones is one of the school’s 40 Y Street members. She’s an active volunteer with a strong opinion against smoking.

“It’s disgusting,” she said. “It could hurt my lungs.”

Other students agreed and recognize smoking is a problem.

“A lot of kids have been doing it more, and it’s not OK,” Nansemond River senior Ashley Tyson said.

Students and faculty took surveys that asked about school smoking policies, the consequences for smoking at school-sponsored events and resources for quitting the habit. These surveys are sent to Y Street offices in Washington, D.C., for data collection.

The school received a $1,600 grant as part of the Y Street 2016-2017 grant program. This is granted in $400 installments based on “milestones” in which members undergo training and earn points through participation.

“Our benefit was to get our students involved to be tobacco free,” Duncan said.