• 61°

Area students take a Stand to kick butts

"Stand!" the two young boys scream to a couple of Ohio University Southern Students outside taking a smoke break as the youth ride away on their bicycles.

They may have been young, but their message was enormous. Children are speaking out against tobacco use and they are determined to be heard.

The Lawrence County Stand Teams joined in the National Kick Butts Day Initiative on Wednesday at Ohio University Southern. South Point High School Stand members presented a poetry and tobacco slam in the high school library.

The documentary "One Day," was shown in OUS' Bowman Auditorium.

It features 52 of Ohio's Stand members taking 8,000 petitions to MTV in New York City asking for the removal of smoking scenes in videos.

This was the 10th annual Kick Butts Day, a national campaign that seeks to decrease tobacco use and the exposure to secondhand smoke.

A year ago Stand groups started forming in area schools. On May 23, the Lawrence County Stand teams will attend the Stand Summit in Columbus, where they will begin to plan events for next year.

They are currently working on doing some public service announcements.

Julie Anna Huddle, an Ohio University Southern student and a college-age mentor for Lawrence County Stand, said that they want to get the word out to the whole community.

"I've seen the long-term effects of cancer.

I see some of the youth, they think they are invincible. We want to keep youths from starting and inspire adults to quit" Huddle said.

She also said that Huntington, W.Va., is smoke-free and she would like to see that go into effect everywhere.

"I think it's a good thing," she said.

The students are quick to show that they are passionate about the fight against tobacco. Stopping friends and family members from smoking is something all said they feel really strongly about. Some have even lost loved ones to the effects of tobacco products.

It is clear that these teams also offer something else to their members - support.

"I feel more secure because I know there are people here that don't smoke," said Jessica Johnson, 14, of Ironton.

Rock Hill Stand team member Kelsey Hardy, 15, joined a couple months ago - her sister got her into it.

Kelsey said that she lost her great-grandfather, and that she did it for him. She explained that she thinks stand is great and the more youth that join, the better to get the word out.

"It's a terrible habit. By the time you are older and have your own kids, they might smoke and that's really bad," Hardy said.

All the Stand members wanted to get the same message across, proudly exclaiming the stand motto "Stand up and speak out against smoking."

The next Lawrence County Stand Team meeting is May 14 at Coal Grove High School. The middle school group meets at 2:30 p.m.; the high school group meets at 3 p.m.

Any student can join and is invited to attend.