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University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
Kick Butts Day
by Levi Pilones, P2, ICHP Student Chapter President
Every year in March our chapter participates in a nationwide event that dedicates one day to educate and empower youth regarding the dangers of smoking tobacco, called “Kick Butts Day.” The purpose is to prevent smoking among children. It is a unique event in which we have an afternoon full of activities that are both fun and educational for children. The opportunity to work with children makes this a favorite event to volunteer for among our members!
This past March, we held Kick Butts Day at Laurance Armour Day School which has a range of students from 1st to 8th grade. Considering their age, our Lung Health Committee had to be creative in organizing activities that would be fun enough to capture the children’s attention and, at the same time, informative enough for them to learn. We came up with four different stations for the kids to rotate through. Each station had different activities, as well as different lessons.
The first station was the straw challenge. We had the children perform some physical activities while breathing through a straw, such as jumping jacks and push-ups. They were also challenged to move a golf ball by blowing air through a straw. These were to simulate the difficulty of breathing experienced by patients with asthma or COPD, which is associated with smoking tobacco. They loved these activities, especially since they were able to move around. In addition, they gained some insight into asthma and COPD.
The second station was role playing. We prepared several small skits that revolved around peer pressure. In these skits, the kids could take turns acting within various scenarios. I remember, during one of the skits, a pharmacy student volunteer stating, “Yo man, you want to take a hit of this cigarette? It’s what we cool kids do.” To which one of the audience volunteers boldly shouted, “No, smoking is not cool! It is bad!” It was so exhilarating to hear such an empowered statement coming from our young audience. The goal of the activity was to educate our young audience through these scenarios on how to resist the peer pressure to smoke. Just knowing that in some way we contributed to their self-confidence to stand up for themselves and make healthy choices makes it worthwhile.
Another station showed contrasting pictures that depicted lung health – some good and some bad. At this point, they were all very engaged to participate because of the previous activities. They explained to us and their fellow schoolmates why smoking is bad or exercising is good. It was surprising to see how knowledgeable they were. The older kids were teaching the younger kids. We merely facilitated their discussion and it was during this activity that we saw a lot of learning taking place.
Lastly, there was a station for the children to write letters asking their loved ones to quit smoking. They actually took this activity very seriously. They wrote to their moms, dads, uncles, and even cousins. I’d like to think that our activities contributed to their willingness to fight against tobacco smoking. On top of that, they took a pledge to say no to smoking by tracing their hands on a poster. Their teacher was quite glad with the activity and she asked to keep the poster to display in their classroom as a reminder to their pledge.
At the end of the day, there were plenty of learning and plenty of fun. One can see why Kick Butts Day is a favorite among our members. It is an event where our efforts contribute to a great cause and, at the same time, volunteers feel really good about themselves. Volunteers often describe the event as enjoyable, gratifying, and even satisfying. Until next year, members of UIC ICHP student chapter will be looking forward to another successful Kick Butts Day.