Margaretta Elementary students are doing their part to kick butts.
More than 100 sixth-grade students gathered in the school's cafeteria last week to listen to Fisher-Titus Medical Center respiratory therapists Kim Bailey and Denise Crumrine explain the effects of tobacco.
After the presentation, students filed back to their classrooms to put together "Kids Care Bags" with letters of encouragement and various items that will be delivered to people in the smoking cessation program at Firelands Regional Medical Center.
Bailey and Crumrine kicked off the program talking about a really great product they thought would help them quit their jobs and become rich.
Crumrine showed them a water bottle filled with an orange-tinted liquid that had a warning sticker on the front.
"This is the product that's going to help us get rich," she said, holding the bottle up for all to see. "It's got acetone in it, arsenic, ammonia, and we've added some flavors to it to hide the taste, but it still tastes horrible. Would you try our product?"
The kids looked disgusted and shook their heads "no" in unison.
"Well, why not?" Crumrine asked.
"Because it's gross," a student shouted.
"You're right," Crumrine said. "Those things are found in cigarettes. There's even a surgeon general's warning on the box, but people still buy them."
She asked how many students knew someone who smoked and almost every hand in the room shot up.
To illustrate their point about the dangers of smoking, the duo hooked a pig lung up to an air pump to demonstrate a healthy lung. They also brought several photos, a model with a smoker and nonsmoker's lung and a slide show of detailed photos of what smoking does to the body.
Several students shuddered at the graphic pictures.
A few students said they felt sick after seeing a picture of an amputated foot that was lost because arteries and blood vessels pumping blood to the appendage were destroyed from the chemicals in the smoker's cigarettes.
"I had no idea that smoking could do that," Adrian Protzman said. "Especially to your feet and your brain."
"Smoking affects much more than your lungs," Crumrine said to the group. "We see this all the time in the hospital. Usually, by the time a smoker finds out they have something seriously wrong with their body, it has spread to other areas."
They also used a "smoking box" to demonstrate how much smoke and tar is released from one cigarette.
"Yuck," Jordan Ryan said. "That's really gross."
As the students walked out of the cafeteria, many commented on how they wanted to call their parents and other loved ones to tell them what they had learned and encourage them to stop.
"We hear that a lot after these presentations," Crumrine said. "At this age, you have to give them all the information you can to prepare them and hope that the information is enough to keep them from smoking."