Greene County third graders recently got an earful on why tobacco is bad, thanks to the Bloomington Hospital's respiratory care department.
Jana Waggoner, a respiratory therapist at the hospital, explained, "This is the second year for the class to be offered to third graders at the five Greene County schools."
It's a one-time class that's an hour long, she noted.
During the class, students watch an age-appropriate video about the downside of tobacco use as well as learn about peer pressure.
"It (video) features super heroes and teaches the kids to be confident, be prepared and to be yourself," Waggoner explained.
Third grade is a good time to introduce the topic and kids are very curious about it.
"They have a lot of questions. They want to know if it (tobacco use) can cause cancer," she said.
During the program, students are also shown two lungs. One is healthy and pink and the other is black.
"They're always very, very concerned about their parents (who use tobacco)," she added. "Especially when they see what's happening to their lungs."
Along with smoking, students also learn a bit about smokeless tobacco.
"We talk about chewing tobacco too. That's the thing in this area ... we really try to bring it to their level," Waggoner said.
The program also includes some hands-on fun.
Students designed tobacco education posters which were entered in a contest, she said. Each school had three winners with the overall winner being Addison Graves, a White River Valley- Worthington student.
Graves is a student in Sabra Stoner's class and is the daughter of Mark and Kristi Graves.
The three winners from each school received a drawstring backpack, Frisbee and T-shirt. The overall winner received the same and will have her art reproduced in the hospital's publications as well in the Greene County Daily World.
The tobacco education program has been offered to Bloomington students for the past 12 years, Waggoner said.
Waggoner, of Lyons, along with Shannon Roach, of Bloomfield, taught the class to third graders in Greene County.
Roach is also a respiratory therapist at the Bloomington Hospital.