Since four years, we have been offering workshops to 6th grade students (eleven to twelve years old) from the Werbellinsee Primary School in Berlin-Schöneberg. We are invited by religious education or life skills teachers.
During the workshops, the students watch short films, play a memory game explaining how leaf tobacco is transformed into cigarettes and adopt the role of tobacco growers themselves, trying to earn money in the tobacco business. But they never succeed in making profits. The students, like real tobacco growers, get more and more indebted to leaf companies, because the companies sell working tools, fertilizers, pesticides and seeds to the growers and set leaf prices according to their interests. In real life, tobacco growers furthermore suffer from nicotine and pesticide poisonings and the destruction of the environment.
“That’s unfair!” is often the students’ first reaction. So the next step is finding solutions. Discussing these, the students had the idea of releasing balloons. They wanted to use an inventive way to spread information about the problems in tobacco growing countries. World No Tobacco Day on 31st of May was the perfect date for the event. Each child created a postcard informing about specific tobacco growing related facts and asking the finders not to start smoking or to quit.
After the balloons had disappeared the students discussed with passers-by and distributed flyers – sometimes with immediate success. “We talked to a woman who promised to quit smoking today”, one of the girls told us proudly, “this would be her last cigarette, she said.”
If you happen to find a balloon, share your thoughts about the postcard with us, write to firstname.lastname@example.org!
View some of the postcards: