THOMSON - Just call it a campus coup.
Since 2001, the McDuffie County Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition has been co-operated by several local agencies committed to promoting tobacco use prevention education.
The coalition's members were various local business and community leaders. Several weeks ago, however, everything changed.
"We lost our core group of coalition officers this past year due to a number of reasons," said Mary Kotras, executive director of McDuffie County Partners for Success, the agency that established the program.
So who picked up the slack?
Thomson High School students, that's who.
"We held elections and the students were nominated and selected to serve as officers," Kotras said.
Though the coalition is not completely run by students, their presence is certainly felt.
"Adult members continue to serve on the coalition so it is a good mix of adults and students representing various factions in the county," Kotras said. "We are very pleased with this outcome and look forward to working with this energetic group who take their responsibility very seriously as to promoting tobacco use prevention in the schools and in the community."
The student members of the coalition teach tobacco-use prevention classes at local schools.
"Basically we go in and teach the class," said Shannon Hampton, vice chairwoman of the coalition. "We have videos and visuals where you're showing students what happens to their lungs with tobacco."
Hampton also said that not only does she feel like her message is getting across, but that she's gaining something from the experience.
"It's important to me because I've taught some of the classes and I feel you really get through to the students," she said. "Some people just have no clue about it. I feel that I'm reaching out to people who don't know and they change because of what we tell them."
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