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Kick Butts Day to teach children the dangers of smoking

Holly Viers • Mar 16, 2019 at 12:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Local organizations are taking a stand against smoking with Kick Butts Day, a nationwide movement that encourages youth to stay tobacco-free.

New Vision Youth is overseeing the event locally, in partnership with several other organizations across the region. Johnnie Mae Swagerty, executive director of New Vision Youth, said the event will use guest speakers, displays and contests to convey its anti-smoking message to children.

“We want youth engagement with this and all people coming together,” Swagerty said.

About Kick Butts Day

Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to speak out against Big Tobacco. It aims to raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use and teach children to reject tobacco marketing and advertising.

Swagerty said New Vision Youth has held Kick Butts Day for 11 years. This year’s event will be held March 20 from 4-6 p.m. at the Riverview Community Room on Wheatley Street. Melanie Isom of the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition will be speaking, along with a representative of the Kingsport Police Department.

This year’s theme is “Don’t vape. Stay in shape.” Children can write an essay or create a poster on that theme for a chance to win a Walmart gift card, Swagerty said. Informational displays and brochures will be on hand for children and their families.

Two other competitions will be held, with prizes up for grabs in both. The first is a cigarette butts contest, which will reward the child who collects the most cigarette butts in a plastic bag, using gloves. The second contest will reward the first child to correctly solve this riddle: What do you call a skydiver who smokes?

The event is sponsored by the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition, the Sullivan County Regional Health Department, the Kingsport Police Department, South Central Kingsport Community Development, Healthy Kingsport, Kingsport Parks & Recreation, KHRA, Girls Inc., the Riverview Boys & Girls Club and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport.

Anti-smoking efforts

Along with Kick Butts Day, Swagerty said New Vision Youth participates in anti-smoking initiatives throughout the year. The group partners with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which fosters young leaders who strive to make their generation tobacco-free.

In addition, New Vision Youth members won a state logo contest for TNStrong, which stands for “Tennessee Stop Tobacco and Revolutionize Our New Generation.” Members have also visited the state legislature to discuss tobacco and drugs, and Swagerty has begun educating children throughout the city about tobacco.

“I do the T4 program, which is a tobacco awareness program, with the Riverview Boys & Girls Club, New Vision Youth kids and Girls Inc.,” Swagerty said. “I’ve done a ‘taking down tobacco’ course, and I’m trained to go and talk to kids about tobacco. That’s what I do once a month at each of the centers.”

For more information, contact Swagerty at (423) 429-7553.

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