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BorealCorps scout troop headed to the state capitol

Mar 16, 2018 06:49AM ● By Editor
This past Tuesday a group of BorealCorps Scouts gathered at Java Moose to work diligently on posters depicting the dangers of vaping. The kids will take the posters to the state capitol and present them at a meeting with state legislators. Photo courtesy of BorealCorps.

By Brian Larsen from The Cook County News Herald - March 16, 2018

Do kids have a voice in matters ranging from gun violence to vaping? It would seem the answer is yes.

Last year, with the help of the Blandin Foundation and Boreal Access, Anne Brataas formed BorealCorps, an online kids’ news site where kids engage in digital storytelling.

BorealCorps is made up of about 20 grade school and middle school children who write, draw and learn web communication, said Brataas.

Local videographer Patrick Knight is leading a video production group for high school students. 

“My sixth-grade students are working on posters that show the dangers of smoking and vaping,” Brataas said, adding, “My middle school students are working on a digital presentation of the glamorization of women’s use of tobacco products through the years. They’ve compiled images past and present of women using tobacco products and a range of ads from those that extolled smoking as a weight loss tool to new ads featuring celebrities vaping.”

On Tuesday, March 13 Brataas took the kids to Java Moose where they worked on posters they will take to the state capitol. 

As the children carefully toiled in the back room, they did so with some large pictures of a stunning young lady placed on the floor and leaned against the wall. The lady in the pictures was the first woman elected to the Minnesota Senate and a long-time smoker. She died of a tobacco-related illness.

Her name? “Nancy Brataas. She was my mother,” said Anne.

As the kids worked, they shared their knowledge of what the huge tobacco companies are up to. These companies have created a new form of cigarettes called vaping. The vaping containers look like colorful pens and the flavors one can purchase range in a rainbow of colors and candy tasting flavors.

“Even though they (tobacco companies) say they are not marketing these products for kids, it’s apparent that kids are the primary audience,” noted Brataas.

Some of the BorealCorps Scouts said they knew of local kids as young as 10 years old who had already tried vaping. In foreign countries, noted one of the kids, children as young as 5 years old are already vaping. 

The posters that were coming to life at Java Moose will be shared with Minnesota lawmakers when they go to the state capitol on March 22. Also attending will be the video production students led by Patrick Knight.

“Both groups of kids are traveling to St. Paul to tell lawmakers how commercial tobacco products have affected them and their loved ones and what can be done to prevent young people from getting addicted to tobacco products and help current tobacco users quit,” said Brataas. 

When they are at the capitol the kids from Cook County will be paired with kids from Jordan, Minnesota to make their presentation.

“These local young people are part of a recent surge in youth advocacy across Minnesota and around the country on a number of topics that matter deeply to young people,” Brataas said. “These local teens know that one in four Minnesota high school students uses tobacco products and they want state action to prevent more young people from getting hooked. But they also want action because many of them have seen the harm that commercial tobacco products have caused in their loved ones’ lives.”

Brataas of course knows best the cruel effects smoking has on a loved one and on a family. She hopes these kids and the combined voices of thousands of other kids will drown out the big tobacco companies.

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