Kick Butts Day to teach children the dangers of tobacco use

Holly Viers • Mar 19, 2018 at 2:27 PM

KINGSPORT — Children from across the region are invited to learn about the dangers of tobacco as part of Kick Butts Day this week.

The event will feature guest speakers, contests and presentations that will encourage children to avoid tobacco products.

“We just want everybody to come out and enjoy the program,” said Johnnie Mae Swagerty, executive director of South Central Kingsport Community Development and New Vision Youth. “Anybody can come and participate.”

When and where: The event will be held Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Riverview Community Room on Wheatley Street.

Background: Swagerty said this event got started in the Tri-Cities several years ago through a local group called Drug Education for Youth (DEFY). The group took students on field trips to colleges, where they learned about the dangers of drug use.

Though DEFY no longer exists, New Vision Youth has continued the group’s efforts. Wednesday’s event will take place as part of National Kick Butts Day, a nationwide effort to discourage children from smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products.

At the event: Swagerty said local experts will be on hand to discuss the dangers of tobacco use and the long-term effects it can have. Children can also participate in a poster contest and a one-page essay contest on the topic: “Tobacco Is …” Prizes will include a smart watch and gift cards.

There will also be a cigarette butt contest, in which children will be given gloves and asked to collect as many cigarette butts as they can. Each bag of cigarette butts will be weighed, and the person who collects the most will win a prize.

Presenters: Guest speakers will include Melanie Isom, prevention coordinator for the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition; Toni Swavely, tobacco coordinator for the Sullivan County Regional Health Department; and ETSU students.

Swagerty said some of the children will also present a skit and perform a song about tobacco use.

Who can come: Swagerty said the event is free and open to anyone, and a pizza party will be held afterward. Parents are welcome to accompany their child at the event and share their experiences or views on tobacco use with the group, Swagerty added.

Sponsors: The event is sponsored by the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition and New Vision Youth in partnership with Kingsport Parks & Recreation, Girls Inc., Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Kingsport Police Department, South Central Kingsport Community Development and the Sullivan County Regional Health Department.

For more information or to find out how to participate in the contests, contact Swagerty at (423) 429-7553.