Park art shows passion for prevention

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COLUMBUS — If you happen to walk through Frankfort Square, take a look down to see what kept a group of youths busy Monday afternoon during a special type of training.

Wherever concrete is visible, it was soon filled with sidewalk chalk art with one goal in mind — creating a tobacco-free movement.

East Central District Health Department’s Tobacco Free Coalition teamed up with Lincoln’s No Limits for the all-day session.

No Limits is a youth-led tobacco prevention program that targets social change and was created through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Twelve local volunteers, ages 12 to 18, took to the classroom and the streets Monday, learning how to make a difference in their community when it came to fighting for a tobacco-free environment.

“We focused on what they can do to get involved in their community, whether it be to start up groups or partner up with other coalitions to start building some support,” said Molly Kincaid, No Limits project coordinator.

Morgan Langmack, a 17-year-old Lakeview High School student, heard about the training through her mother, who works at Youth for Christ.

“I thought it sounded pretty interesting,” she said.

But it was more than just intrigue that drew Langmack to the event, she wanted to be part of a movement that could possibly change her community.

“I like kids a lot so I feel like they need to be safe and healthy for their future,” she said. “I don’t think it’s right that they have to put up with people smoking around them. They shouldn’t have to inhale that secondhand smoke, so I’m here raising awareness.”

Along with creating sidewalk art, the teens also decorated posters to wear, making themselves human billboards for the cause.

“Our hopes are that these youth will take back and do projects throughout the community,” said ECDHD Tobacco Free Coordinator Jamie Rodriguez, who lost her mom to lung cancer when she was 20 years old.

Rodriguez hopes her story can prevent others from becoming addicted to tobacco products.

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