Empower Pack Highlighted in Prescott Valley Tribune.


Music, dance, action bring anti-tobacco message to youngsters

Sue Tone Reporter 


Three characters with super power gifts traveled 140 years back from the future to visit Lake Valley Elementary School this past month to prevent the evil Addictor from tempting them with bad habits like smoking cigarettes, unhealthy diets and not a lot of exercise.
The nearly hour-long musical skit presented to grade 3-5 students was a collaboration between the Arizona Department of Health Services and actors with the Phoenix Theatre Company to help empower children to make good choices. The actors took the show on the road with a 20-stop tour, of which Lake Valley was number nine and the sole school in Yavapai County to benefit from the anti-tobacco and good health message.
In the musical, three characters return to the present from 2110, where bad habits have made for unhealthy living for everyone. In their efforts to save the world from this future, they must convince students to engage in healthy living and resist the enemy – Addictor.
Students could hear Addictor’s voice, but could not see the character. While addiction is sometimes not easy to see, one can recognize its effects, the actors told the children during the question and answer period following the show.
Leslie Horton, section manager, Community Health Education with Yavapai County Health Services, said budget cuts to in-classroom education programs means they can’t reach as many students as in the past.
“We do miss being in the classroom,” Horton said.
The four Phoenix Theatre actors helped write the script, compose the music, and choreograph the skit: Walter Belcher, Raven Woessner, Isaac Wilson and Joshua Sherril. Their energy kept the action-packed play moving, and their wisecracks brought laughter from the students.

“It’s called a ‘fork.’ I learned about this from the History Channel,” quipped Wilson, one of the characters, as he sat down to eat.
David McAtee, YCCHS Community Relations specialist, said he thought the action and music pulled the kids in, and the production had a good message.
The average age of initiation to smoking is 11, said Ben Palmer, marketing specialist with the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease division of ADHS.
“With some people, addiction just draws you in. Only about 3 percent of smokers can just quit. It usually takes 8-12 attempts to quit,” Palmer said. “Smokers know it’s bad for them; they have to be ready to stop. There are different ways to do it for different people.”

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