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Fun run brings important message

Local Girl Scout troops sponsored a zombie face painting booth at the recent MTFC Zombie Fun Run.

Staff photo by LA Story

A flood of zombies — big and small —recently helped bring a positive message to adults and teens.

The Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Tippah and Alcorn Counties' recent Zombie Fun Run was a first time event and MTFC Project Coordinator Stacy Smith Brooks said the event was successful with 111 registered runners and close to 200 attendees.

Music, healthy snacks, zombie face painting and prizes were part of the fun, but many runners truly got into the spirit of the event by dressing the part in full zombie style.

However, Smith Brooks pointed out that the whole point of the event, as reflected in the theme, was to convey an important message.

"I think that the impact that it made in people's minds when it comes to electronic cigarettes and JUULS and the epidemic that we're facing was the most important thing," said Smith Brooks. "It's an epidemic, not just in our local area, but across the nation."

The event was held in conjunction with the 2019 Kick Butts Day and in her address to the crowd before the start of the race, the project coordinator had some important points to make to drive home some vital statistics in regards to the e-cigarette crisis.

Those points were:

More than 1 in 4 high school students used a tobacco product in 2018 due to an extreme increase in e-cigarettes.

Current e-cigarette use increased by 77.8 percent among high school students and 48.5 percent among middle school students during 2017""2018.

The U.S. Surgeon General has proclaimed e-cigarettes a national epidemic.

E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth since 2014.

E-cigarette use is highest for boys, whites, and high school students.

A single pre-filled liquid nicotine JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

Youth nicotine use can lead to addiction and can harm the developing brain, impacting learning, memory and attention.

Use of any amount or form of tobacco including e-cigarettes is unsafe.

Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Mississippi.

With the purpose of the event being such an important message, Smith Brooks said every step was taken to get the point across.

"We basically wanted to mobilize the youth and engage them and let them know the dangers of JUUL-ing. I essentially turned this event over to my youth advocacy teams — six for Corinth/Alcorn County and four for Tippah County," she said. "I think that it makes a lot of sense for kids to tell other kids. We tried every way possible. There was a tobacco free message on every race bib and we had information for parents and kids when they got their race packets."

Part of the method the MTFC works with the community is to partner up with other organizations to spread the word to a wider variety of the populace. These important partnerships are essential and the Zombie Fun Run was no different, said Smith Brooks.

"Part of our coalition is to work with other people. I couldn't do it by myself. These partners that we have really made the difference when it came to pulling off an event of this size," she said.

Partners for the Zombie Fun Run included the Corinth/Alcorn Parks and Recreation, Magnolia Regional Health Center, Daily Corinthian, Region IV Youth Drug and Alcohol Prevention Services, Boys and Girls Club of Corinth, Corinth-Alcorn County Civitans/Junior Civitans, Corinth Mayor's Youth Council, Alcorn County Girl Scouts, Excel by 5, Aiming for Healthy Families and Youth Rise.

The project coordinator said that the MTFC and its youth advocacy teams will continue to spread their important message at upcoming events.

The MTFC will serve as a partner with Boys and Girls Club of Corinth/Alcorn County for the Third Annual (So You Think You Can) Dance Like The Stars, which will begin at 6 p.m., Saturday, April 6, at the Crossroads Arena Convention Center, 2800 South Harper Road, in Corinth.

Locally the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition is a program funded by a grant through the State Department of Health — Office of Tobacco Control.