Spreading Health Awareness

We all remember the lessons from elementary school: the  videos, workbook activities and guest speakers that continually told us that smoking, drugs and alcohol were bad.

Though this message has been pounded into our heads for the majority of our lives, we still encounter programs that attempt to diminish these habits, even in college.

Accepting the reality that tobacco use and smoking cigarettes are still relevant issues facing college students today, the Health Education Center, Center for Service in Action and START (Student Task Force Advocating Reducing Tobacco) paired together to bring back the 4th Annual “Pause for a Cause” event at UC Irvine.

This program serves as both a contest and educational awareness campaign not only to inform students about the dangers of tobacco to human health, but also to the environment as well.

The Pause for a Cause contest began on Feb. 7th of this year, where students were asked to create a three-minute video that demonstrated the impact of tobacco on the environment.

After creating the video, participants were told to upload their projects on YouTube.

Once submitted, a panel of students and faculty members from the Health Education Center and other departments viewed the videos to see if they qualified for the next round.

“We were really looking for creativity, intent and how it relates to students,” says Jasmine A. Blackburn of the Health Education Center when explaining the criteria for selecting videos.

After the panel of judges chose the qualifying videos, the projects were then shown at a Launch Party held on April 6 in the Cross Cultural Center.

The event began by featuring Debi Austin, an acclaimed public speaker known for her public service announcements advocating against tobacco use.

The underlying message of her speech was to address the impact of public service announcements on public health.

However, before delving into that topic, she first congratulated all of the contestants for creating moving videos that will inspire students of UCI, as well as members of the community.

“The PSAs that you made are going to touch every child,” Austin said. “You can create a 30-second video that a young child will remember every word of.”

Austin continued by talking about her personal experiences with the tobacco industry, having received a laryngectomy in 1992 after being diagnosed with cancer of the larynx. She spoke of both the effect smoking has had on her and how it has affected the environment.

“Our animals are dying from chewing up cigarette fibers,” Austin said.

Her words that followed caused people to not only examine personal health risks, but environmental harms as well.

After Debi Austin finished her speech, the viewing of the contest videos began. There were seven videos that qualified to be shown.

The videos were all very diverse in nature: some of them consisted entirely of hand-drawn animations, while others featured students singing their own versions of popular Journey and Justin Bieber songs.

While the mediums were all unique, they all contained a similar message of how and why tobacco is detrimental to the environment and health.

After the viewing of each video, the creators of each project explained to the group how they came up with their ideas and what they gained from the experience.

Now that all of the videos have been released and shown to the public, the task at hand is to now choose the favorite video.

From April 6 through April 15, students and community members will be able to vote for their favorite on the Center for Service in Action website.

The winners will be announced on April 16 at the Wayzgoose Fair. The video with the greatest amount of votes will receive the first prize award of $500.

The second winner for Critic’s Choice will be awarded two tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm. Lastly, the third prize winner will receive an iTunes gift card.

For a chance to see the creativity and insight of UCI students, take a look at the videos and vote for your favorite.

Aside from demonstrating the talent of students on campus, the content shown in each video may just be the catalyst to inspire the change people have been working towards for the majority of our lives.