The students of Ecole Mother Teresa School recently participated in the Butt Ugly program which encourages youth to stay away from tobacco products.
The program focuses on the unhealthy effects including cancer, stroke and heart disease; as well as the benefits to not falling into peer pressure as they progress into high school. The performances are put on by high school students including 16-year-olds Mac Ferreira and Riley Calliou – who performed for the students of Mother Teresa on November 8.
“At the end of the buzz groups, the kids always tell me ‘I will stay tobacco free’ and I have never had a kid not say it,” Ferreira said. “That is pretty cool and effective I believe.”
Calliou added the students are “always so amazed with the things we tell them. They have never heard it before and they are surprised that so many high school kids don’t use tobacco. I’ve had groups of kids just assume that’s what you did in high school.”
The presentation focuses on a cigarette named Hack and a chewing tobacco tin named Chewie who are unaware of the cultural and health impact smoking has had on society. As they progress throughout their journey to get teenagers addicted, they realize how wrong they were as the harmful effects are spelled out to them by different groups – including students who have always said no to tobacco.
“It is definitely crucial information that we are getting out to the younger generation,” Ferreira said. “It’s good to tell them they don’t ever have to do it.”
Both Ferreira and Calliou saw the benefit of explaining this project through drama, rather then just a traditional power point presentation.
“The comedy we bring in is effective because if we come in just standing there with a piece of paper – they will tune you out because they aren’t so into it,” Calliou said. “When you are in beautiful costumes, moving around and making funny pee jokes – they will be into it.”
Ferreira added “it is pretty effective because it’s not just us talking to them – they get to see us interact with each other.”
Butt Ugly has been in schools for over 22 years and the numbers of young smokers in Alberta have dropped significantly in that time.
“I hope that Butt Ugly will continue on for years to come and hopefully tobacco will become extinct like the dinosaurs,” Calliou said, referring to one of the lines in the performance.