Get-Up Tour combats teenage smoking

By Alex Gershanov
Published: September 2009

The XBox 360 Get-Up Tour, in support of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, made the first stop of its 10-week, 50-school tour at South on September 14. BMX bikers, skateboarders, and inline skaters assembled in South’s faculty parking lot on a mobile half-pipe. As an announcer presented facts about the risks of smoking, the extreme athletes entertained students with high-flying, daredevil tricks.

Prevention/Intervention Counselor Rich Catrambone organized the event after hearing about it from an out of state colleague. Since XBox and the Marine Corps were sponsoring the tour, the rally came of no expense to South.

“It was a $20,000 donation, Catrambone said.

In addition to watching the athletes perform during their C and E block presentations, students were able to test their strength in a Marine pull-up challenge and play unreleased XBox 360 games including DJ Hero, Tony Hawk: RIDE, and Forza Motorsports 3.

Although Catrambone, the Housemasters, and ex-principal Brian Salzer read the tour contract, they were unaware that XBox 360 games would be present at the rally.

“I was concerned about [the event] becoming an advertisement for a company whose product I don’t always agree with, Catrambone said, referring to violence oriented first person shooter games.

Nevertheless, many students found the event informative and effective. Junior Wes Yee, who enjoyed skateboarding in his free time, felt that he could connect more to this type of event.

“[The stunts] helped me to focus more and realize how bad smoking is, Yee said.

On the other hand, some students believed that the event did not prove to be very successful. Many students admitted that they ignored the announcer altogether and simply watched the athletes perform.

Catrambone hoped that the rally would reach out to a group of students he felt was somewhat neglected.

“We have great athletics here, Catrambone said, “but we don’t do much around [action sports]. I thought it would help to validate that sport.

After the athletes performed their final routines, the tour announcer asked students trivia questions about smoking and offered XBox merchandise as prizes. The trivia was an effective method of educating students due to its interactive and competitive nature.

After the first show, the athletes were invited into South’s cafeteria to eat lunch and interact with students. According the tour’s blog, the athletes were amazed to find out how receptive students were. One South student even went as far as to take notes of the presentation on her cell phone.

The athletes that were featured at the event were John Parker (BMX), Mike Saavedra (BMX), Marc Englehart (inline skate), Jay Stevason (skateboard), and Trevor Meyer (BMX). In the upcoming weeks, the tour will visit 9 other cities including New York, Philadelphia, and Orlando.

Catrambone, hoping to have a better understanding of the sponsors in the future, plans to have the tour come back to South next year.
“Kids got information in a different way [through the tour], Catrambone said. “We want to continue reaching out.

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