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Sussex Countian
  • Georgetown children 'kick butts,' pledge to say no to smoking

  • At least 100 kids, from 3-year-olds to teens, spent their Saturday morning braving the brisk temperatures and windy weather looking for cigarette butts along the roads, while at the same time learning the dangers and disadvantages of smoking.
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  • The streets of downtown Georgetown are a bit cleaner today than they were before this weekend. That's to the credit of children from the Georgetown Boys & Girls Club.
    At least 100 kids, from 3-year-olds to teens, spent their Saturday morning braving the brisk temperatures and windy weather looking for cigarette butts along the roads, while at the same time learning the dangers and disadvantages of smoking.
    The event, organized through a partnership between First State Community Action Agency and the Georgetown Boys & Girls Club, was held in honor of Kick Butts Day, a national movement that aims to empower youth to become advocates against tobacco use.
    "This is about making the community aware that tobacco is still a problem in the community," said FSCAA Program Manager Sandy Hagans. "We're making an impact on the kids, on the community and on the families."
    The children and several community volunteers met at The Circle and were broken up into several groups by age, each group tackling a different area of the town. Their mission: Attempt to rid the streets of dirty cigarette butts − or at least get as many in the trash as they could. Along the way, volunteers would talk to the younger children about the dangers of smoking.
    "This is so awesome what we're doing," said Anyah Bailey, one of the younger children taking part in the event Saturday. "We're doing a good job."
    The children spent about 45 minutes walking through town, picking up hundreds of cigarettes and throwing them away. The children were all given plastic gloves, of course, to keep their hands clean during the project.
    Children in the age 3-5 group could be heard yelling, "Holy moly!" and "Wow, that's a lot!" when they found areas of the streets that were littered with cigarette butts.
    Renee Hickman, education director at the Georgetown Boys & Girls Club, said the club has worked with the American Lung Association on educating its members on the dangers of smoking and making them aware of the effects of second-hand smoke. This training is built into the weekly programming, she added.
    This is at least the fifth year First State Community Action Agency and the Boys & Girls Club have teamed to hold this event, and Hickman said she has seen firsthand the impact it has had.
    "Our older kids are going to hear from a parent today who was smoking last year, but took part in this event and has since quit," Hickman said. "The kids are getting a chance to see the big picture."
    Back at the Georgetown Boys & Girls Club, where the children could take off their hats and gloves, the students spent the rest of the day taking part in various activities. The younger children designed their own anti-tobacco T-shirt logos, while the older children took part in expressive projects, developing poems, raps and dances to illustrate the impact second-hand smoke has on the community.
    Page 2 of 2 - "One of the main takeaways of today is the character building piece," Hagans said. "There's a lot of peer pressure out there today and these kids are trying to obtain their own identity. This gives them an opportunity to work together, develop leadership skills and embrace their values."

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