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Drawing away from tobacco

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Monday, March 26, 2007

RANKIN INLET - Students at two Rankin Inlet schools unleashed their creativity while taking a stand against tobacco earlier this month.

The students at Leo Ussak elementary and Simon (Ford) Alaittuq middle school also had the chance to win some great prizes in the anti-smoking poster contest.

Rankin Inlet community health nurse Dimarees Saimaut said funding for the project was provided by the Nunavut government's tobacco-reduction program.

She said while the poster contest was a lot of fun for the kids, its main goal was to help turn them away from tobacco products.

"The project was aimed at showing kids the hazards associated with smoking and using tobacco products," says Saimaut.

"I came up with the idea of the poster contest to encourage the kids to get involved, and to make it a lot more fun than me just standing there and giving them a bunch of information."

Funding was used to provide prizes for the contest, to which the students responded positively.

Saimaut then prepared cards and letters to thank the students for saying they would never start smoking.

She said she was impressed with the creativity the kids showed in designing their posters.

"Some of the kids came up with ideas that you wouldn't think they could come up with on their own," she says.

"Many of the posters would really attract people, so that made judging the contest very difficult.

"Unfortunately, we only had so many prizes so we couldn't pick them all.

"But, they were all winners for the effort they put into making their posters."

Saimaut said judging from what she saw and heard in the schools, the contest achieved its goal.

"Based on what some of those kids said to me, I made anti-smokers out of quite a few of them.

"The contest had a big impact on them and, if funding were available, it's something I'd like to be able to do every year.

"We could take a different approach with it from year to year so it stays fun for the kids to do."