By Nicole Vincent, Office of Curriculum & Instruction

“Smoking stinks like camel’s breath!” This was the chant echoing through the halls of Lewiston’s elementary schools recently, as first graders participated in an educational anti-smoking program.

Members of the Youth 2 Youth organization from Lewiston High School presented the Samantha Skunk program to younger audiences. The program uses a magenta skunk named Samantha to spread the message about the importance of not smoking and the dangers of using tobacco products. Reading from an oversized, interactive storybook, Samantha tells her tale of being pressured by peers to try smoking. As soon as she starts, however, she begins turning colors and her self-perception changes. Throughout the story, each time Samantha smokes, the children in the audience yell out, “Smoking stinks like camel’s breath!” By the end of the story, Samantha realizes that she should be comfortable being unique among the other animals and that she does not need to smoke.

After the presentation, students engage in an active discussion with Samantha Skunk, other members of Youth 2 Youth, and teachers. They discuss the harmful effects of smoking and why they should never pick up the bad habit. LHS sophomore David Baril also treats the young audience to a musical rendition of “Under the Sea”; he substitutes words relating to the anti-tobacco message for the song’s real lyrics. Following the production, all first-grade students also receive a copy of Samantha’s storybook to take home and share with their families.

The Youth 2 Youth teens, supervised by substance abuse counselor Vicky Wiegman, are presenting Samantha Skunk to first-grade classrooms across the district. The organization is a tobacco-free advocacy program run by Tobacco Free LA.

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