School pupils hope their anti-smoking film will go viral

Anti-smoking students hope the make the fight against fag-ash go viral as they take to social media.

Pupils from Whitburn Church of England Academy wrote, starred-in, recorded and are now ready to premier a new film highlighting a host of reasons to sling out cigarettes or not pick them up in the first place.

Pupils from Whitburn Church of England Academy who have created an anti-smoking film.

Pupils from Whitburn Church of England Academy who have created an anti-smoking film.

The video will be used across social media to highlight the issue, accompanied by the hashtag #SmokingStinks, and as a classroom aid and discussion piece for students across South Tyneside.

The campaign was created when South Tyneside Council and the Customs House theatre joined forces to work with students to develop a creative campaign persuading peers to say no to smoking.

The school was selected from a host of creative ideas submitted by students, following a school-wide competition throughout South Tyneside.

Year 10 students Lewis Fasa, James Fletcher, and Adam Swinbanks, who are all 15, put forward a unique take on a stop-motion animation using Lego, with a powerful storyline about the harmful effects of smoking.

A still from the anti-smoking film created by Whitburn Church of England Academy pupils.

A still from the anti-smoking film created by Whitburn Church of England Academy pupils.

The trio won the opportunity to design and develop a smoking prevention campaign, working alongside and gaining experience from regional film and media professionals.

Along with classmates Alannah Ng, Matthew Brydon, Eve Curtis, Louie Scott and Grace Mackay, they are now the stars of a two-minute video focusing on the cost - to the pocket, health and appearance - smoking has on young people.

To promote the video and campaign, #SmokingStinks has also been developed as supplementary social media campaign, using group text conversations, highlighting how non-smokers view peers who smoke and the impact that can have on friendships.

Carla Craig, graphic design teacher and PSHE co-ordinator at the Academy, said: “As a school, we feel this campaign is incredibly important.

“It empowers our students to take learning into their own hands and also work on a project that drives home the negative impacts smoking can have on your health, happiness and well-being.”

Lewis added: “We loved making our video for the competition, which was a great team effort from the boys, but working alongside the professionals was amazing.

“We were all a bit nervous at the start before filming, but it was fun and worked out well and we’re all really proud of what we have done. I can’t wait for the reaction to it.”

The judging panel included South Tyneside Council, The Customs House, video production experts Roar Motion, and PR agency Creo Communications.

Roar Motion worked with the winners to develop video.

Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing, said: “Who better to lead the fight against tobacco than our creative young people! I think it’s fantastic that these students are leading the way in South Tyneside.”

Together, the students and professionals will develop a story further into a short advert that will be used across social media, to discourage young people from starting to smoke.

Smoking remains a serious problem in South Tyneside.

In a 2017 borough health survey, 5% of Year 8 pupils and 11% of Year 11 pupils said they had smoked a cigarette the week before the survey and 35% of pupils stated that a parent or carer smoked.

Also, 11% of primary school pupils stated that someone they live with smoked in the same room as them.