Haines Elementary School 6th-8th grade ABC Project Students point out the many cigarette butts that litter their school yard. Students are fed up with people smoking around their school. Not only are the students in this Chinatown neighborhood of Chicago sick of cigarette butts covering their school grounds, they are tired of walking out of the building and right into a cloud of cigarette smoke. The smokiest time of day around the building, according to the students, is right as school is dismissed every afternoon. The culprits, the students reveal, are parents and other adult relatives of Haines students picking up children from school.
Using the steps of the ABC Project, the students investigated relevant, existing rules in CPS. What students learned was that smoking is already not allowed on or around the school grounds and they realized that rather than pass a new rule, they needed to find a way to better enforce the existing one. After receiving the go-ahead from their school’s administration, the Haines ABC team attended a meeting of the school safety patrol squad. There they taught student volunteers polite ways to remind smoking adults to stay a distance from the school, or put their butts out. What happens if the smokers don’t listen to the patrol squad, you ask? That’s when they call in the school security guard, Mrs. Hunt. According to the students, you don’t want to mess with Ms. Hunt! To remind parents and students of the no smoking rule, students are using Infographics, a type of data visualization, to create signs that will be placed on school grounds and provide information about the negative effects of smoking and remind students and parents about the rule.
The Haines ABC team is also planning several activities that they hope will help prevent future smokers at their school. For the 5th-8th grade students at Haines, the ABC students are planning to hold an assembly in which smoking and its effects are the focus. For this, they’ll have a speaker from the Chinese Community Health Center talk to students. For the younger students, the ABC team will lead interactive lessons that help students learn the dangers of smoking, and they have a very engaging plan for doing this. Students will take part in grade-appropriate scavenger hunts in which the younger students search for clues—either ingredients of a cigarette (including Butane, Formaldehyde, and Tar) or the effects of smoking on the body (like lung disease, high blood pressure, bad breath) in order to win.
Using thoughtful and varied approaches to the problem at their school, the ABC students from Haines have learned that they can influence the way their school operates and parents behave, and know that they can serve as positive role models, for younger students—and adults!