Teams of sixth graders competed for trophies and bragging rights Tuesday by demonstrating their knowledge about the harmful effects of tobacco and marijuana at the 15th annual Anti-Tobacco Challenge Bowl.
A record 29 teams from 14 schools in Tulare County called out their answers in the game-show style competition.
The contest is a fun way for students to learn about tobacco and marijuana risks, said Adam Valencia, director of the Tulare County Office of Education’s prevention division, a sponsor of the event.
“Our students serve as advocates when they get back to campus,” he said. The bowl is a homegrown event and Valencia said he’s not aware of another one like it.
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Most questions posed to teams are about tobacco, but lately questions about marijuana have been added in keeping with the state Department of Education’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug prevention efforts.
Students at Kohn Elementary School in Tulare are getting the message. The school fielded two teams and both made the finals, with the “Kohn A” team taking first place.
“Nicotine is so addictive and it can destroy your body,” said Kohn student Emma Woodward, 11. “I’ve learned what it can do to you.”
Earlimart Middle School sixth graders participated with three teams.
“Smoking is bad,” said Adrian Navarro, 11. “It causes cancer, it hurts the lungs, and sometimes (causes) death.”
Earlimart teacher Eleanor Lopez said her students are “amazed” at statistics about how much money tobacco companies make.
Kohn teacher Jennifer Orr said that learning about tobacco arms students with the knowledge to avoid smoking when they get older.
“Smoking damage to lungs is irreversible — they’re surprised by that,” Orr said. “They are surprised to learn that marijuana impairs motor skills.”
Participating schools came from Ducor, Earlimart, Dinuba, Kingsburg, Tulare, Visalia, Lemon Cove, Springville and Waukena.