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Smyrna Park combed for butts in student war against tobacco
BKs members of PHAST fight smokes
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After spending hours picking up remains of cigarettes left by inconsiderate smokers, four students Blaker Kinser Junior High School students reminds others of a request to not smoke in Smyrna Park. The four students -- Wilbur Arellano, Fabiola Pena, Savannah Meyer and Nina Kees -- are on the PHAST JV council. They have been to tobacco education training with the county. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Blaker Kinser Junior High School students were hunting for butts in Smyrna Park on Saturday, Oct. 12.

Whoa there, it's not what it might sound like. Members of the Protecting Health and Slamming Tobacco (PHAST) club were looking for cigarette butts littering the park in an effort to fight harmful tobacco use.

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.

The first-ever Butt Hunt for BK attracted 36 eighth-graders for two hours of clean-up of Smyrna Park. Thousands of pieces of tobacco litter - including butts and cigarette containers -- were 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 had a very successful morning and look forward to future anti-tobacco campaigns and activities throughout our school year," said Robin Johnson, a school health/PE teacher who is an adviser to the club. "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."

Elizabeth Escalante, a planning coordinator with SCOE prevention programs, joined the Ceres group to help support their clean-up efforts.

For Red Ribbon Week, the team will have a Tobacco Education Station during lunch on Monday, Oct. 28. Students there will have a clear bucket of our tobacco litter on the table and students will be taking guesses on how many cigarette butts were collected. PHASTjv students will also be wearing tobacco and nicotine facts on their lanyards to help "Slam Tobacco" throughout campus. In addition, the group will have homemade phlegm available for students to look at, as well as other anti-tobacco related materials.