Students stamp out smoking
'There's a lot of people smoking on sports grounds and leaving their butts everywhere'ROSA STUDHOLME
Eighteen months of hard work has paid off for a group of teenagers with the district's sportsgrounds going smokefree, Rosa Studholme reports.
A group of determined South Canterbury teens have successfully campaigned for smokefree sportsgrounds in the Timaru district.
South Canterbury Smokefree Youth Ambassadors and Temuka's Nga Rangatahi Auahi Kore Ki Aoraki lobbied the Timaru District Council for the change during submission hearings to the long-term plan last week.
And, after 18 months working on the issue, they got the results they wanted.
Ambassador Rhea Coulter said they were stoked to find out the council had agreed to their submission.
"All that hard work paid off."
Over the 18 months, the working group had met every week on a Thursday after school, "popping" ideas around and discussing the issue.
The group made presentations at primary schools and some attended sports games at weekends with submissions on postcards for people to fill in.
They pounded Stafford St distributing the postcards and made their presence known at Relay for Life.
The group found that of the 82 per cent of supporters, 68 per cent were smokers.
Rhea said the group's members had joined for "heaps of different reasons".
Her sister convinced her to become an ambassador after the two girls convinced their mother to stop smoking.
The group is made up of students from Timaru boys' and girls' high schools, Craighead Diocesan and Roncalli College.
"We spent quite a fair bit on it in our own time," Rhea said.
"When it was getting down to the whole going to see the council we did have to do quite a bit in our own time.
"It was quite a commitment, but it was worth it."
Making the submission to council had been "pretty scary".
"We were formal, but stuck to being ourselves.
"It was pretty scary, but it was pretty relaxed once we started talking."
The goal for the group now was a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.
The smokefree ambassadors were joined by Nga Rangatahi Auahi Kore Ki Aoraki from Opihi College in Temuka that has about eight members.
Member Haze Poutai said they were approached about putting in a separate submission to council.
Three or four made verbal submissions last week.
The group was appalled at the state of sportsgrounds.
"There's a lot of people smoking on sports grounds and leaving their butts everywhere."
On World Smokefree Day they spent their lunchtime at Temuka Domain picking up butts.
They handed out surveys at the Te Wai Pounamu rugby tournament held in Timaru and discovered there was plenty of support for smokefree sportsgrounds, and also marae.
"That's our next step," Haze said.
"Next on our agenda is going directly to marae." He said that going to marae would involve more work and require a different approach to getting the message across.
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