BHS students take anti-smoking message to City Hall - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

BHS students take anti-smoking message to City Hall

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A group of Burlington High School students is trying to get the city to further limit the spaces where people can smoke cigarettes. They thought it would be easy but the experience has served as a real lesson in just how government works.

They're using poetry to take a stand.

"I just really wanted to make a difference in the community," said Balkisa Abdikadir.

Abdikadir and Hawa Adam, both in 10th-grade, are pushing for a smoking ban at Burlington's parks and beaches. They're part of a school program called START -- Students Taking Actions and Risks Together -- and they are bringing their message to the City Council.

"People give speeches about drugs all the time and I feel like they hear the same things all the time, so I just wanted to be more creative and get their attention in a different sort of way," Abdikadir said.

At a recent city meeting, the students performed the piece, but to their surprise, it didn't work. The smoking ban lost 8-4.

"We kept going back to the full council meeting and fighting for this. We were the squeaky wheel," said Jill Nye-McKeown, Burlington High School's Prevention Coordinator.

They say the experience served as a lesson in how government works.

"You kind of like have to keep going at it and not feel intimidated by this one stopping point," Adam said.

The girls are keeping up the fight. Neither was born in the United States, so neither can be president, but both girls are already eyeing the state Legislature.

"Not exactly on the same scale, but close enough, and I think it's just as impactful," Adam said.

Abdikadir and Adam will be back at it again Monday night at the City Council meeting. Officials in the mayor's office they say they've received the message, but point out there are already a lot of places you can not smoke in the city.

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