Oklahoma Spotlight: Empowering Students to Kick Butts with New Signage

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The Cherokee County Health Services Council, TSET Healthy Living Program serving Cherokee County and local Student Wellness Action Teams (SWAT) hosted a “Billions of Butts” Kick Butts Day cleanup event on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 to clean up the Tahlequah Anthis-Brennan Sports Complex. The local event raised public awareness of cigarette litter generated by tobacco use on city property, and attendees put up signage to encourage physical activity while educating patrons about the Tobacco-Free Properties ordinance.

How Did You Develop This Idea?

The Anthis-Brennan Sports Complex has rapidly grown over the years, starting out as solely soccer fields, it now includes a football field, softball and baseball fields, an aquatics center, two playgrounds, and a basketball court.

The city of Tahlequah had recently adopted a Tobacco-Free Properties ordinance. However, during an environmental scan and signage assessment of parks and recreational areas in the city of Tahlequah, we observed that the Anthis-Brennan Sports Complex had no metal signage to make patrons aware of the city’s tobacco-free policy.

An old plywood board had been posted to the side of a storage shed by the Complex Soccer Fields and students had painted park rules and a tobacco-free message on the plywood several years back. This sparked the idea to have local SWAT teams, with the assistance of a graphic designer, creatively design meaningful messages and graphics for permanent signage that would be placed throughout the complex. Each sign was to be unique to different areas of the complex and SWAT Project Guidelines directed students to theme their designs around swimming, baseball, picnics, etc.

Key Partners

Partnerships with the City of Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation Public Health, Cherokee County Health Department, and Sand Tech Screen Printing made this vision a reality. Signage was presented to city officials and community stakeholders to encourage the placement of attractive tobacco-free signage. Sponsorships from Northeastern Health System, Bank of Cherokee County, and NEO Health allowed for the purchase of the tobacco-free signage. Other donations were provided by Tahlequah Wal-Mart and the Cherokee County Health Services Council.

Additionally, a $500 mini-grant was awarded by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. A total of $2000 in funding, plus community contributions through underwriting (for example, an organization bought our event shirts) and other support, were leveraged to implement the event and purchase educational handouts, postage, invitations, thank you cards, cleanup supplies, event marketing and promotion, refreshments, event t-shirts, and metal signage.

Planning for the event began in January through the implementation of the event in March.

How Was Your Work Advanced?

We had a tremendous impact across all sectors in our community to promote tobacco-free environments. For example, with this event, we were able to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, increase tobacco education and awareness, place signage on tobacco-free properties to inform the public of the law, and supported tobacco-free environments.

Learnings & Next Steps

Our program felt that the event went extremely well. In the future, we hope to arrange the event date around the legislative session in order to increase attendance by elected officials.

We plan to host Kick Butts Day 2020 at the Anthis-Brennan Sports Complex and perform a second environmental scan to show the impact of posted signage.

Resources for Implementation and Inspiration

Contact OK In the Know member Lora Buechele at lora.buechele.cchsc@gmail.com or (918) 822-0411 with questions and check out the Cherokee County Healthy Living Program Facebook page.

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