To mark the city's decision this year to ban smoking on all municipal property, the young dancers got together to celebrate not having to deal with second-hand smoke. The event was put on by Better Beginnings, Better Futures, in partnership with the Sudbury and District Health Unit.
The youths created T-shirts and danced to mark the occasion. One girl wore a shirt with a picture of herself holding a sign that read, “My mom smokes a lot and it is bad for her.” Cigarettes contain “tobacco sauce,” she said.
“And that's not good for you ... We want every one of them to stop.”
One young man said cigarettes contain “rat poison, battery acid, tar, hair products.”
“It could make you have cancer and make you sick and really kill you bad,” said another youth.
Mitch Mensour, supervisor of the Better Beginnings, Better Futures pre-teen program, said the kids are at an pivotal age when it comes to deciding what influences them.
“We felt we wanted to get awareness out,” Mensour said. “They're at an age now that some of them (will soon be in) high school and obviously there's going to be more influences out there.
“So we thought that if like we bring in a program like this, where we integrate fun with awareness, they'll learn without even thinking they're learning.”
They practised their dance routines on Mondays and Wednesdays, with some of them coming out twice a week. They also created their own T-shirts, each with an anti-smoking message.
“Get them dancing, get them active, show them there's stuff other than smoking, right?” Mensour said. “It's really nice that we have places where kids can go and hang out and their parents don't have to worry about them being around second-hand smoke.”
Madison Marchand, 10, said she wants everyone she knows to be a non-smoker.
“I don't want them to get cancer or anything and pass away,” she said. “And I don't want to be near them when they smoke.”
Kayla Haan, 9, said she practised their routine for the last month or so getting ready for Thursday's performance. Kayla said she knows smoking makes people sick and is bad for everyone's health.
The ban is good because it helps make sure “kids don't get cancer and they don't breathe in second-hand smoke,” she said.
The ban on smoking in city parks came into effect May 1. It prohibits smoking on all outdoor municipal facilities, including beaches, parks, sports fields, parking lots and ski hills. If caught, offenders will first be given a warning, and could be told by bylaw enforcement officers to leave the area.
Maximum fines up to $5,000 could be levied, but the city has applied to the province to allow for preset fine amounts that will be issued similar to parking tickets.
If anyone sees someone breaking the smoking ban, the city advises they can either tell the person smoking is not permitted, or they can call 311 and speak to bylaw enforcement.