By Kelsey Upah
The North Tama High School JEL chapter held an assembly on Wednesday April 22nd. JEL stands for Just Eliminate Lies and is an anti-tobacco group. An executive board of TATU members leads the group. TATU stands for Teens Against Tobacco Use. The members include a male and female from each grade that were picked through application. They are: seniors Sara Stoakes and Alex Herink, juniors Kelsey Upah and Terry Van Dyke, sophomores Nicole Jensen and Tyler Beenken, and freshmen Hannah Mesch and Jordan Mask.
The morning of the assembly, the JEL members drew fifty chalk outlines in both the front and back of the school. The fifty bodies represented the fifty people that die in one hour across the United States from a tobacco related illness. The crime scene with the dead bodies included caution tape and tobacco facts on tent cards so people could be impacted by a physical representation as they walked into the school.
In the afternoon, the JEL chapter held an assembly where the members introduced themselves, showed the school the gallon bag of cigarettes and other tobacco products that were picked up on Kick Butts Day on March 25th, and showed a video presentation about mainly focused on spit tobacco.
Feedback is an important part of the process in making sure that everyone stays informed and understands the consequences of their actions. A survey will be handed out to all of the Jr. High and high school students to help for the future. The JEL members will put on a more in depth program for the Jr. High in the near future also.
Many things were very surprising to student of all ages. Some of the students were impacted and will take the challenge to not use tobacco, and especially not spit tobacco.
Freshman Sydney Fehr commented, "I learned that you can have various surgeries to remove cancer that can be causedby using not just spit tobacco, but every kind of tobacco. Smoking is probably the nastiest thing I've ever seen."
Sophomore Tanner Dahms said, "Chewing tobacco can harm you in a way so you have to get your whole jaw removed. Using chewing tobacco is a very bad choice because it can ruin your entire life."
Sophomore Brittany Young commented by saying, "I learned chewing tobacco can harm you in more ways than smoking can. It's nasty to see how it affects people."
An anonymous source said, "The people who do use spit tobacco think, 'it's not going to happen to me.' They don't think it really pertains to them, but it really does and really can influence their life down the road."
Making a lasting impact on students is difficult for people their own age to tell them not to use tobacco products and make wise decisions. Senior Sarah Schrier stated, "I wish there was more than just a movie to inform us. Skits would have gotten through to more of the students I think."
Some students were impacted by what they saw on the video, like junior Pete Kopriva. He stated, "Because I saw the effects of a guy's face after using spit tobacco, it was hideous, I decided I don't want my face to look like that."
Junior Lucille Howard commented by saying, "I was surprised how much the movie we watched connected spit tobacco with bull riding because I tend to associate it with baseball more. It grossed me out!"
Overall, most students got the message the JEL group was trying to get to them.
Freshman Winston Miller said, "I thought it was a very good presentation, it was well planned and it had a good point."