Pupils speak out against smoking

ENVIRONMENTAL Services at Coleraine Borough Council hosted a No Smoking Day Public Speaking Competition for schools at Flowerfield Art Centre in Portstewart.

This is the first year that Council has coordinated the competition, which followed previous art and educational projects within schools to mark National No Smoking Day over the past five years.

The event aimed to raise awareness of the dangers associated with smoking for the individual, family and community, and also provide information on how to get help quitting.

Debbie Keys, Health and Well Being Officer at Council, said: “As this is the first year that Council has developed the competition, we have been overwhelmed with the level of enthusiasm from both primary and post primary schools across the Borough.

“I would like to thank all the pupils who participated and worked tirelessly to prepare and research their chosen topic, as well as sincere thanks to all teachers and parents involved for the provision of guidance, support and encouragement.

“Due to the success of the evening, which was educational while enhancing skills and personal confidence levels amongst pupils, it is envisaged that this event will be delivered on an annual basis.

“I would also like to thank our adjudicating panel for their time, effort and expertise in the difficult task of judging. The panel included Mayor of Coleraine, Alderman Maurice Bradley, Pat Purvis, Senior Health Promotion Officer with a lead on Tobacco; Public Health Agency Northern Area and Sonia Shirlow, Stop Smoking Specialist, Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

“Many thanks to Coleraine Leisure centre for sponsoring the event and also to Clear Pharmacy from Waterside Coleraine for attending and the provision of one-to-one advice on how to quit smoking.

“Smoking ends up claiming the lives of half of all smokers who often suffer from a range of illnesses including respiratory diseases and up to fourteen different types of cancers. In Northern Ireland each year smoking claims the lives of 2,300 people which is staggering when we think that each one of those deaths can be preventable.

Participating primary schools within category A of the competition included Ballytober, Millburn and St Columba’s, Kilrea. All six pupils taking part selected their theme from one of two topics; ‘Tar the roads; not your lungs’ or ‘Smoking; what’s all the fuss about?’.

The winner for the category with outstanding scores for content, voice delivery and impact was awarded to Fionnuala Keane from St Columbas Kilrea.

The three post primary schools competing in categories B, C and D were Coleraine High, St Paul’s, Kilrea and Loreto College.

The ten speakers selected their topic from the options provided some of which included ‘If you think smoking is cool, you’re a fool’ and ‘Be smart; don’t start’. Winners selected included: Category B: Year 8 Finn Lestas (Loreto); Category C: Year 10 Ben Levy (Loreto); and Category D: Year 13 Catherine McCollum (Coleraine High).