Indigenous students are leading a push to stop their community’s future going up in smoke.
A mural entitled ‘Smoking is not our culture’ was unveiled at Mount Druitt Hospital on Thursday, as part of Chifley College’s Walking into Good Health program.
The location of the mural was significant, and chosen by the students themselves.
One in four Aboriginal residents in Mount Druitt have reported symptoms of asthma. The prevalence of respiratory problems has been linked to a higher than average smoking rate in the community, according to associate professor Smita Shah.
“The students chose to install the mural at the hospital because they know people from their families will be walking in these halls,” Professor Shah told the Star.
“They wanted to reach all families. The message is coming from the young people in this area.”
Chifley College Shalvey Campus year 9 student Aiesha Pettit-Young said she believed smoking was common in her community.
“I think there’s a lot of peer pressure on young people. Kids at school might do it and make out that it’s cool to smoke,” she said.
“This program has impacted on our school and hopefully other people will take on its message.”
Professor Shah, founder of Triple A (adolescent asthma action) program, worked with Chifley College and Western Sydney Local Health District to establish the Walking into Good Health program.
The concept of using art to communicate an anti-smoking message was inspired by students and Aboriginal education officers at the school.
Students painted the mural with the help of indigenous artist Trent Duffy. It will sit permanently on a wall in the top level of the hospital.
Chifley College principal Janet Harding said the students wanted to make a contribution to the well-being of their community.
“The message we want to promote is good health in good hands,” she said.
“Through this program our students showed passion, teamwork, leadership and social awareness. As a school we are very proud of them.”
Details: Triple A program website.