Ever wondered why we are constantly bombarded with messages that say “Don’t do drugs!” “Drinking is bad!” “Smoking is dangerous!” and “Chewing is harmful!” Many of us have grown up accepting the fact that drugs and alcohol are bad, but most of us haven’t been educated enough to learn exactly why they are bad. If we do not fully understand how drugs and alcohol work, how can we understand making good choices regarding their use?
Hello! My name is Jaime Fredrickson, I’m from the village of Morrill, Ne, and I have recently become the newest educator in the Peer Health organization here on the UNK campus. I joined Peer Health not long after Oksoberfest, the completely sober, crazy-fun, alcohol-awareness-Halloween-Party. I participated in almost every event at Oksoberfest, and besides being a blast, it was a wake-up call. In high school, there were all kinds of opportunities to have a great time without including alcohol, but in college, alcohol becomes much more of the norm. When I joined Peer Health, the thing I was most excited about was spending time with great people who know how to have a good time while still making wise decisions.
With Oksoberfest being Peer Health’s biggest event, I joined right as things were winding down for a bit. But education never ends on a college campus, and after a brief “resting” period, things are certainly winding up again. My main project this year is going to be a focus on tobacco use, especially chewing tobacco. As I’m pursuing Dental Hygiene, I’m certainly going to need to know a lot about oral health, and so the health effects of chewing tobacco will definitely be important to know in my profession.
To be completely honest, right now, I don’t particularly know a lot about the health effects of chewing tobacco, but I intend to learn. I do know, from observing Hygienists at work, that oral health has a huge impact on the body’s overall health. A much greater impact than many people ever realize. My goal is to learn everything I can about oral health, chewing tobacco, and the long-term effects, and then find creative and effective ways to spread the knowledge.
It would be silly to launch a campaign telling people they MUST STOP CHEWING. Personally, I have friends who I know would never be affected by a judgmental poster. But if we can put accurate information out there, advice that is reasonable, maybe we can slow people down enough to realize the impact of their decisions. Yes, “Don’t Chew! It’s Bad!” might have been effective in third grade, but in college it’s time for some real information, real education, and real impact.