By Tim Leeds
The threat of more rain couldn't keep the YAHOU Coalition from Highland Park Elementary School from their planned march yesterday.
Marge Suek's fifth-grade class, members of Young Adults Helping Others Understand (YAHOU,) left the school at about 10:45 a.m. to march to the HELP office in the Masonic Temple Building, carrying signs with anti-smoking messages.
The group of 21 students has done research so they can present messages about the harms of tobacco use, and has issued a challenge to all fifth-graders in Havre to be the smoke-free Class of 2008. They have attended workshops presented by HELP, recorded a video talking about the harms of tobacco use and have made presentations to other students on the subject.
"Did you know over 40,000 people die every day from tobacco-related illness?" YAHOU member Tanya Westbrook asked yesterday.
The group has extensive knowledge about the subject. Nick Nault said almost 90 percent of smokers start before they are 18 years old. Rosa Horne said 5 million children under age 18 right now are expected to die from smoking-related disorders, Kyle Finneman said 6,000 kids each day try smoking for the first time and Hannah Somers said 430,000 people die in the United States from smoking-related diseases each year, more than from murders, AIDS, car wrecks and fires combined.
Suek said they applied for a YAHOU Coalition grant from the HELP committee to set up the group. They started working on the grant on April 2, finishing Tuesday with their march carrying the signs they made.
She said the purpose has been to create awareness, in their own group and in others, about the harms of smoking.
The group's video includes messages about the harms of smoking, the students listing their anti-drug activities, including sports, music, reading and art, that they do instead of smoking, and includes skits performed by the class. Some of the skits show what to do if someone offers them tobacco, what to do if they see other students smoking, and dramatizing the harms of tobacco.
The research the YAHOU group did includes attending the HELP workshop, requesting information from the American Heart Association and doing research on the Internet.