Friday, June 17, 2011

6/17: Awareness is a Gift - Guest Post

I have my first guest post today. This post is by Lauren Modeen. As you know I have two children, and you may not know that I have a severe allergy to smoke. When I was a young adult going to dance clubs or even restaurants I remember coming out sneezing, coughing, and with watery eyes due to smoke around me.  I have always opposed smoking, it is something that I have had all around me growing up, I just never chose to do. It seems lately marketing is done towards children which is really scary.  Please enjoy Lauren's post.
Awareness is a Gift
By:  Lauren Modeen
Like many, I learned a lot of things in my childhood that served me well as I grew up, even if I didn’t appreciate or realize it fully at the time. And interestingly, oftentimes, the lessons that I internalized best, were those that I was enlightened with in a fun, constructive way, rather than forced.

Here’s an example. In fourth grade, I had to memorize the capitals of all 50 U.S. states. I remember looking at the large pull down map my teacher Mrs. Bishop had in her classroom and being, quite frankly, freaked out. How could I possibly memorize all of that? Dread set in.

Then, a couple of weeks later, when sitting down to breakfast, I noticed my standard floral placemat had been replaced with a placemat of all the 50 U.S. states. Huh, I thought and continued to eat my cereal. After a few breakfasts, I realized I was starting to actually look at the placemat. It wasn’t something I was forced into, just something that I was being made aware of, and it began to stick. Week after week, I began to learn the capitals, and the entire U.S. map began to stick in my head. I was young, impressionable, and absorbent.

When I think about this in the context of more serious challenges kids are facing today, I see a parallel that can be drawn. What if kids were introduced to things that could hurt them later in life, in a constructive, learning manner, so they are empowered to make better decisions?

Take tobacco in Massachusetts for a minute. Big tobacco companies are implementing sneaky marketing tactics to hook kids early on nicotine. Things like Orbs are packaged to look like Tic Tacs, and Ariva to look like Dentyne gum. But what if kids were made aware of the dangers of this early on? Before they are even really faced the fork in the road of to use or not to use? My guess is that they would have a much better chance of taking the healthy, right path. What they might not even realize at the time will most likely stick with them, giving them better instincts down the road.

So, as a parent, what can you do to introduce your child to these dangers early on? How can you make them aware of what they need to avoid later in their teenage years, without pushing, but just educating and empowering? Well, the good news is that there is a Massachusetts online community of parents called “Oppose” that wants to help you along the way.

Oppose is having an event at the Holyoke mall this Saturday, 6/18 and next, 6/25 with the goal of educating parents and kids about sneaky tobacco products. There will be interactive exhibits and giveaways (you can see pics of past events here). Of course, if you don’t live near this mall, or can’t attend either of these events, you can join the online community and still learn a lot about how to talk to your child about nasty tobacco products. You can educate and empower them so they can make great decisions down the road.
How can you easily get involved?

1) Join to learn more about what’s going on and get involved.

2) Follow @OpposeTobaccoMA and RT our tweets

3) Fan the Facebook page -

4) Blog about your thoughts on this on your personal blog

5) Attend a mall event near you -

6) Forward this post to parents and adults you know who might want to get involved

Thanks for reading and we hope you will take the time to attend an event or join the Oppose community! After all, awareness really is a gift.

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