Toronto youth find parallel between their community efforts and Hollywood film

    Pop culture really does influence young behaviour

    TORONTO, March 15 /CNW/ - Thin was in, sex drugs and rock and roll was
considered living the dream. That was then. Now curvy, healthy, and clean
living is what life is all about - at least that is what pop culture dictates.
It has been said Hollywood affects today's youth, but today Toronto youth
prove how a recent movie parallels their lives, almost as if they inspired the
    T-DOT, Tobacco Don't Own Toronto are hosting another youth outreach event
on March 15, 2007, which includes a special viewing of Freedom Writers,
starring Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey. In the film, the students from
high-risk areas overcome adversity. In Toronto, T-DOT is doing everything they
can to do the same, and they are starting by removing smoking from their
high-risk communities.
    The event called Double Impact will start with a Spoken Word event. "This
is a great way to inspire positive change and further our charge to fight the
tobacco industry," says Jaskaran, T-DOT member. "We have invited more than 250
youth from across Toronto to attend the event and listen to a selected 10
youth who were tasked to create a poem, song, rap or any written piece that
expresses how they feel about the tobacco industry. Part of the challenge was
to incorporate the phrase "they don't own us" within the piece."
    Attendees include youth from Oakdale Community Centre, Falstaff Community
Centre, Earles Court Youth Centre, Loretto Abbey, Occonor Community Centre,
Driftwood Community Centre, Dovercourt and Albion Boys and Girls Club and Al
St. Louis Spoken Words performer. St. Louis has performed his own brand of
spiritually intense Spoken Words on many stages in Toronto, sharing the
spotlight with various established artists. Spoken Word is a medium through
which positive change can be achieved.
    "The youth performances to be showcased will serve as an educational tool
for all the youth attending, says Nathaniel, T-DOT member. "The Spoken Word
examples will reveal some of the many tobacco industry youth marketing
tactics, and inspire these youth to take the anti-tobacco sentiment back to
their communities."
    After Spoken Word is a special screening of Freedom Writers. At a prior
event, T-DOT featured the Oscar winning film Dreamgirls. Smoke-Free movie
events show how smoking in movies influences youth behaviour off-screen.
Dreamgirls had a lot of smoking scenes, and as a result T-DOT petitioned the
movie studio and the actors to cease this behaviour. Conversely Freedom
Writers does the right thing, and does not use smoking in the movie. T-DOT and
the 250 attendees will sign cards congratulating the actors and the studio,
who had the opportunity to feature smoking but denied the offer, regardless of
how it may have "enhanced" the intensity of the movie.
    T-DOT acknowledges the power of the media and the movies and how negative
behaviour gets prominence, but they are seeking to highlight the positive
today through Double Impact, with both the Spoken Word and Smoke-Free movie

    Tobacco Don't Own Toronto is a dynamic youth group from Toronto ages
14-19. The T-DOT group is a part of a larger youth movement across Ontario
which supports the Ministry of Health Promotion and campaign.

For further information:

For further information: Lauren Wolff, (416) 451-2061

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