Chalk the Walk

The first ever Nani Ke Ola, “Beautiful Life”, Wellness Fair was held on March 15th, 2018, to highlight health resources available to the campus community. Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i was there to mark Kick Butts Day by highlighting the effects of secondhand smoke exposure on campus.

The Maui, Molokai, and Lana‘i Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i, in partnership with the Smoke-Free UHMC Initiative, developed an idea to mark Kick Butts Day on campus this year through a series of visual demonstrations to illustrate the negative effects of secondhand smoke on the campus community.

The event drew enough interest from partnering agencies and organizations that the vision quickly transformed into a health fair highlighting resources available to students, faculty, and the larger community. Resources highlighted included tobacco cessation services, dental hygiene, physical therapy, nutrition, mental health, and physical activity.  

Health Fair

Nani Ke Ola Wellness Fair included Zumba, yoga, martial arts, and pai ‘ai

A number of demonstrations were scheduled throughout the event, including Zumba, martial arts, yoga, pai ‘ai, and a secondhand smoke visual demonstrations by the Coalition. High school students involved in the Maui Economic Opportunity Youth Program, and through Maui High School, volunteered to conduct a campus-wide clean-up where they marked the location of each cigarette butt collected by a bright pink pin-flag. Signs were also posted across campus explaining the project. The youth collected over 1,100 cigarette butts in about 45 minutes. The flags were left up over the weekend to allow students, faculty, and visitors to see the impact of the litter on the campus.  

The youth volunteers also participated in a “Chalk the Walk” demonstration, using the sidewalks throughout the Great Lawn as a canvas to write facts and draw illustrations about the toll of tobacco use on our country — facts that are hard to ignore, especially when printed bright and bold beneath your feet.

The final demonstration consisted of setting off synchronized non-toxic smoke bombs at the designated smoking areas across campus. Adult volunteers detonated the smoke bombs while students stood nearby with signs that explained the demonstration and provided facts about secondhand smoke. The brightly colored smoke drifting through campus was a very effective visual and drew a lot of attention to both the locations of the designated smoking areas and the impact of the secondhand smoke emanating from these locations on the entire campus.   

Smoke Bombs

Smoke Bomb demonstration illustrating the impact of secondhand smoke throughout campus

The Coalition has worked for years to engage the campus community around tobacco education, prevention, and awareness. Unfortunately, the structure of UHMC creates some difficult barriers. First, not everyone is on campus at the same time, making it difficult to reach students through smaller events. Nani Ke Ola taught us that collaborating on a larger event with a broader theme, where the Coalition can specifically highlight issues around tobacco use, is a much more successful formula. The visual demonstrations were also far more impactful than a single tabling event, reaching a much wider audience over the span of several days.

All of the tobacco awareness efforts the Coalition has been involved with on the UHMC campus over the past several years, including Nani Ke Ola, were to promote and draw support the idea of a tobacco-free campus policy. The initiative has met many challenges, but this year that goal will become a reality. The State Legislature just passed a bill, SB 134, that will establish a tobacco-free policy for the entire UH system. 

The new law will go into effect this summer and UHMC will be a tobacco-free campus, at last, protecting current and future students, faculty, and visitors from secondhand smoke exposure. The Coalition and the Smoke-Free UHMC Initiative are ready and eager to support UH administration with education and implementation of the new policy. Cessation services will be available through the campus Health Center provided by Kathleen Hagan, UHMC Nursing Faculty and valued Coalition member. 

The Coalition looks forward to the second annual Nani Ke Ola Wellness Fair in 2019, when we can promote a tobacco-free campus and a tobacco-free U.H. system!