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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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KICK BUTTS DAY AT THE MARY RYAN BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB | SAFE STREETS, HEALTHY KIDS

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It’s not a secret - using tobacco is bad for your health. Kids at the Mary Ryan Boys and Girls club recently learned more about what it does to the body and how the tobacco companies are targeting youth.

In coordination with Kick Butts Day, a national anti-tobacco event, club members gathered outside their facility near 43rd and Burleigh to get the word out. Program manager Laura Christenbury helped lead the youth during their day of anti-tobacco activism.

She says the kids really get into activities like this. “I think a lot of our kids are getting that. I’ve seen a really big shift in attitudes towards tobacco lately.”

The kids spray painted t-shirts with stats of deaths related to tobacco use and hung them on a clothesline outside the club calling it ‘Airing out Big Tobacco’s Dirty Laundry.’ They painted 123 shirts, representing the national number of deaths every day in the African American community due to smoking.

Laura says she’s also working with area corner stores to help them realize that having tobacco near the candy shelf or at a young person’s eye level can influence them to try it.

The kids also learned how companies sometimes package their products in brightly colored wrappers and make them in fruity or sweet flavors - all enticing to a young eye. To bring awareness of big tobacco’s tactics and to inform the public club members used some of the same tactics to get their own message across.