Teens Preach Anti Smoking Message

They combine gospel music and contemporary dance to deliver an anti smoking message. A group called "Teens Against Tobacco" is visiting several coast schools this week.

The performances are sponsored by the state's "Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi".

The teenagers found an enthusiastic audience at Pass Road Elementary. Teens from Hollandale, Mississippi shared a serious message through positive music. Their unique mix of upbeat gospel music and "praise dancing" is designed to let young people know they have control over the choices they make.

"You have young adults who try and influence teens to do drugs and alcohol all the time. All the time. Walking down the street, even in your own home. That's why we take it upon ourselves as teenagers to go around and talk to other kids and teenagers," said teenage performer, Beverly Clay.

Mamie Warren is the team sponsor and a school tobacco nurse. She's convinced that youngsters desperately need positive influence and encouragement.

"Once the kids are involved with something that's positive, you don't have to worry about them. I also believe if you get them at a young age, you can deter them from starting," said Warren.

Senior Dwight Mackin says the message seems to be sinking in. The advice about avoiding smoking is straight forward.

"Most of them appreciate it because with tobacco you're killing yourself with tobacco. You're also killing yourself with alcohol," he said.

The high energy performance apparently struck a chord with the enthusiastic crowd at Pass Road Elementary. The children added their voices to the closing number.

Teens Against Tobacco has some 250 members. Along with the music and dance group, other teams use drama and personal testimonies to share their anti smoking, anti drug message.