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Students clean park of waste left by trashy tobacco users
PHAST kids participate in annual hunt
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Blaker Kinser School officials and students spent some time cleaning up Smyrna Park of cigarette butts left by inconsiderate smokers on Oct. 8. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

In just 90 minutes an army of 100 students from Blaker Kinser Junior High School and 10 staff members collected over 7,000 pieces of tobacco litter from Ceres' biggest park, Smyrna Park.

The Oct. 8 effort was part of an annual Fall community service effort organized by the school's Protecting Health and Slamming Tobacco (PHAST) club. Members were looking for cigarette butts as well as cigarette package waste littering the park in an effort to fight harmful tobacco use.

"They were so excited to come together for a united cause to make our park more beautiful and healthy for the citizens of Ceres," said Robin Johnson, a school health/PE teacher who is an adviser to the club.
Also participating was Blaker Kinser's new principal, Paul Rutishauser.

PHAST is a program sponsored by the Stanislaus County of Education (SCOE) and Blaker Kinser Junior High has 50 members who are committed to role modeling healthy lifestyles, as well as educating their peers on the dangers of tobacco products and nicotine.

"Our BK team seems to grow each year. We have an extraordinary team on our campus of over 150 students who serve as role models for healthy choices, as well as peer educators that stand against tobacco and other toxins."

The trash was collected and then sorted and counted by students. The data will be used to help further efforts to provide a healthy and safe environment for the Ceres community.

"We look forward to future anti-tobacco campaigns and activities throughout our school year," said Johnson. "In the end, my biggest hope is that these students and more will be educated and inspired to make healthy and wise choices and to remain tobacco and nicotine free for their rest of their lives."