All year long, and during the summer, the club Vikings Kicking Out Tobacco collects data on youth tobacco usage and hosts many community events to bring about prevention awareness.
The sponsor of the club, Patricia Bailey-Jones, helps ensure the club succeeds and gets the proper administration approval for the club’s year-long projects. She shares just how deadly tobacco habits can be.
“When it comes to statistics, people that die from tobacco usage is higher than car wrecks, you know aids, anything else combined," said Bailey-Jones.
Throughout the course of the club forming in 2013, they have researched new data about tobacco and the companies that sell its products. One shocking discovery is the target consumer is much younger than you might expect.
“One of the things we have learned is that the younger we can start educating them about the dangers, the less likely they are to pick up that habit in the future," said Bailey-Jones. "If you look at any of the packaging that these cigarettes and vapes and things are coming in, they look just like products that kids eat and use."
The club has been so involved in community projects that's why they were awarded the top spot at the 2022 Say What! Conference. This year’s president, Adrian-Elizabeth Keim, shares just some of the many ways they helped prevent tobacco usage with their peers in the Brazos Valley.
"This year we’ve done everything from Red Ribbon week to Texas Tobacco Free Kids Day, and Relay For Life," said Adrian-Elizabeth Keim. "All those are big projects with the community and overall tobacco prevention."
Secretary, Gracie Morales, describes the moment the club realized that they had actually done more than those that usually run the projects at the state conference. It gave the group the confidence to continue working hard in the area.
“We finished with 50 projects overall and that was the highest overall," said Morales. "We even beat out the Say What! people that run the projects and so we beat them and it felt good to be the winners and kind of have the most projects done."
Every single person they help means so much to the group because they are impacting that person or small group of people’s lives for the better.
“We’re making a difference, if we can stop a few people, one person from picking up a vape, you know we did something," said Morales. “Our goal is to educate everybody and make information available for anybody who needs it."
The club has social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as a new website.
You can find out more about the club and how they are getting involved with the Brazos Valley Community.