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On average, 26 smoking related deaths occur each day in Missouri, according to the Saint Louis County Department of Health.
Saint Louis teens are taking action against these statistics through the new government funded program, AirO2Dynamic.
AirO2Dynamic is part of the Let’s Face It campaign — a move to “bring our community together” and to “give everyone the opportunity to live the fullest, healthiest life possible[,]” according to letsfaceitstl.com.
AirO2Dynamic, however, has a specific focus on youth prevention. It consists of a “diverse group of young, committed and powerful leaders from schools around the county. It is a youth-led, youth-driven effort to create a healthier, tobacco-free environment in St. Louis[,]” according to letsfaceitstl.com.
“AirO2Dynamic is a youth engagement team of the Lets Face It tobacco free campaign,” said senior Katie Stack, AirO2Dynamic member. “We want to empower teens to fight back against tobacco company manipulation.”
As one of its first projects, AirO2Dynamic will hang 26 grim reapers a day throughout the halls of Saint Louis schools involved with the campaign.
This symbolic number represents the 26 people who die of smoking related illnesses in Missouri each day. AirO2Dynamic plans on having 130 grim reapers hung in the halls of each school by the end of the project, as it is expected to go on through the week of Oct. 23 to 28.
“This grim reaper thing is our first big project,” said Stack.
“I really think it will put a perspective into the amount of death and damage to the public health that is caused by tobacco,” said senior Justin Dioneda, AirO2Dynamic member. “It will give a very clear visual representation of the danger of tobacco.”
AirO2Dynamic is currently involved with 11 schools in the Saint Louis area. Each school has one or two different representatives who collaborate and organize events.
“We really believe that if you have a tobacco free youth, that will lead to all around less tobacco use for future generations,” said Dioneda.
AirO2Dynamic currently has a commercial that is aired occasionally on television. The commercial includes AirO2Dynamic youth representatives, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and Governor Jay Nixon, as they portray a message for a tobacco free youth in Saint Louis.
AirO2Dynamic is organizing another event where Saint Louis youth are encouraged to submit their own 60-second original videos, lyrics, poetry, photography or digital art that include a message that speaks against the dangers and risks of tobacco use. The deadline to submit is Oct. 31. Winners from each category will be announced in December and can win prizes like an ipad, ipod nano or a digital camcorder.
With the projects its organized, AirO2Dynamic hopes it will impact teenagers’ lives across the Saint Louis area.
“We’re hoping to do more projects like this in the future, some more projects that would hopefully even target a wider audience in Saint Louis,” said Dioneda.
“Our goals are to educate the youth about the dangers of tobacco use and educate the community about the dangers of second hand smoke,” said Stack.