Grade six students at C.P. Blakely got the butt ugly truth about nicotine Nov. 7. Award winning anti-tobacco group Butt Ugly used drama and small group activities to engage the students and inform them of the dangers of nicotine in all its forms, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and vapes.
Butt Ugly uses tools such as drama and what they term “buzz” groups, smaller groups with leaders from the troupe, to facilitate greater awareness around tobacco use and model potential ways for handling pressure to use tobacco.
“Knowledge is power” was the recurring phrase during the play the team presented to the students. In the play, Alice’s sister, Joey, expresses interest in trying their babysitter’s cigarettes. Alice falls asleep only to drop into a world where her sister, Joey, has been kidnapped by Queen Nicotine. Alice must follow a rabbit and a map through a confusing world to find her sister and help save her from the power of addiction.
Along the way she meets characters like Onesy and Choosey and Chew and Spew who are all caught up in addiction. Alice finds out even a vape isn’t safe for her to try tobacco. She learns the Queen asks for sacrifices, sometimes “every penny in life savings”, sometimes a person’s confidence, and in this case, she wants Joey’s lungs.
Luckily the rabbit comes by to save the day and after chaos ensues to show the addictive power of nicotine, Alice falls asleep in the dream only to wake up in real life to find Joey hasn’t smoked any cigarettes and they decide to play Destiny.
The play set the stage for the students to break up into buzz groups where the leaders had them go through a few movement activities such as pretending to be dinosaurs and sending waves to each other with a “whoosh” sound to get the students into a more open state of mind. Leaders shared information about all the different forms of tobacco and answered questions students had. One of the leaders started listing off some of the 4000 chemicals in cigarettes, including formaldehyde and the students thought she was making it up.
Leaders in the groups used true and false cards about tobacco to illustrate how nicotine plays a role in creating addictions, how nicotine actually causes the stress it pretends to relieve and how addiction destroys freedom. The groups also bounced ideas for how to handle pressure to use tobacco such as changing the topic when someone asks if you want to try a cigarette.
The grade six students had a special guest, Mayor McIntyre, show up to stay afterwards and have photos with the group.