“The Dangers of Smoking” can be explained by a series of statistics and facts related to the detrimental health effects of smoking, reduced life expectancy, increased health care costs and so on. But before any change in behavior can be expected, students must first become personally engaged with a speaker that they don’t know and buy-in to his credibility. James O’Hare, the managing partner of BioMedia, LLC, a custom media company, and Councilman of Ward 6 in Euclid, used that approach in an effort to convey to the 7th grade class of Noble Academy three lessons:
1) reasons why people will not be truthful with others – or even with themselves – and why building and judging credibility is key to making good decisions
2) some historical and cultural history surrounding smoking;
3) personal stories on the harmful effects of tobacco.
In addition, the students took part in an anonymous survey to discover facts about their current environment and attitudes as it relates to smoking.
As part of an effort to integrate current events into the program, Mr. O’Hare showed a photograph of President Kennedy smoking a cigarette. This reinforced a couple of important notions, first, that until the mid-1960s, smoking was not universally considered a health hazard, and also that even intelligent, high-performing individuals can sometimes make bad choices that students must judge and decide not to follow. This connectivity was made even more impactful by the fact that Mr. O’Hare’s presentation took place the morning of November 22nd – the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy.
To reinforce the significance of the date as well as to illustrate the value of ‘authentic’ and honest messages, Mr. O’Hare showed to the class a 1964 Kennedy half-dollar. This 50-cent piece was the last to be made of 90% silver. Mr. O’Hare invited students from the class to submit to Mr. Keles a single, simple message that they would pass along to a younger sibling or student to convey why it’s important to never begin to smoke. The prize for the winner? That same 1964 Kennedy half-dollar.