Children Teaching Children About Addiction

"I don't want to go see the monster," a girl screamed as she approached a boy hiding under a blanket.

The skit is about the ugliest boy alive. But the final scene reveals what's really ugly -- a girl smoking a cigarette. The drama students are using comedy to send a serious message to South Mississippi children. The lessons include tobacco addiction and stranger danger.

"Strangers could kill you and you could get in the hospital," said 3rd Grader Krislyn Clinton.

"When they were doing the singing and the dancing, they had cigarettes and they couldn't dance anymore," said 6th Grader Cassidy McMullen. "It shows that you can't play sports and smoke, because you're out of breath constantly."

"We know that if we can deter these students from all those bad habits that are out there in society, out there in the community, they can in turn concentrate on good study habits and good behavior," said Frednia Perkins with the Mississippi Department of Education.

The students also pick up some coping skills, when dealing with peer pressure and violence.

"You know we can avoid a fight, by talking it out," the students sang.

One session of the Gulf Coast Youth Service Summit, is geared towards Kindergartners to 8th graders.

"They had dances and puppets and they put jokes in it, instead of just making it boring," McMullen said.

Another program targets teenage troubles like suicide, pregnancy, and alcohol abuse.

"Please, help us cut the strings. Take back your life, and refuse to be an addict," the teens said.

"Through these skits, and the various presentations, the kids just embrace it," Perkins said. "And they take what they learn here back to their schools, back to their communities and even back to their families."

Most of the children at the summit are involved in service-learning projects, that combine community service with academics. The students also heard from a state Supreme Court Justice, and learned about the environment, public safety, and homeland security.