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Methodist Challenges Students to Stay Tobacco-Free

In the Community

Each day, nearly 3,200 people under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette. If America’s youths continue to pick up the smoking habit, about one in every 13 young people could die prematurely from a smoking-related illness.

Statistics like these make the No Tobacco Challenge such an important initiative for Methodist in Douglas, Sarpy and Cass counties. The annual program engages thousands of third-graders in 517 classrooms across the Omaha metro area to talk about the dangers of tobacco and the importance of making healthy choices. 

Children are provided educational materials for their classrooms and pledge cards. They're also challenged with an artwork project, in which each student portrays his or her commitment to a tobacco-free life. One child’s artwork is chosen from a pool of finalists, and this year’s grand prize winner is Axton Sayles, a student at West Dodge Station in Elkhorn.

“The creative expressions from these third-graders definitely demonstrate an understanding about the importance of taking care of themselves and the world around them.This is a program that has grown every year and as more children get the message we hope parents will also.” 

Deb Meyers, RN, BSN, OCN
Program manager, Methodist Lung/Thoracic Oncology Clinic

Axton’s artwork will be featured on two outdoor billboards, and she will receive a $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Her class will also receive a $200 Barnes & Noble gift certificate following a celebration party to be held at West Dodge Station. Runners-up included students from Chandler View, Sagewood, Springville, St. Pius X/St. Leo and Thomas elementary schools. 

This year’s young artists did not disappoint. Check out the amazing artwork and our list of winners below! 

Congratulations to our No Tobacco Challenge winners! 

Grand prize winner

$25 Barnes & Noble gift certificate for student, $200 Barnes & Noble gift certificate for the classroom and a classroom party

  • Axton Sayles – West Dodge Station Elementary, Elkhorn – Molly Edick, teacher

Runners-up

$25 Barnes & Noble gift certificate for each student, $100 Barnes & Noble gift certificate for each classroom and a classroom party

  • Verania Lopez – Chandler View Elementary, Bellevue – Rachel Minarick, teacher
  • Lennon Johnson – Sagewood Elementary, Elkhorn – Jaime Kuehn, teacher
  • Lily Morris – Springville Elementary, Omaha – Rebecca Carroll, teacher
  • Saron Goitom – St. Pius X/St. Leo Elementary, Omaha – Anita Peterson, teacher
  • Laney Wolff – Thomas Elementary, Gretna – Vickie Duin, teacher


The No Tobacco Challenge was a program first implemented by Methodist Health System. In 2016, Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) and Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands (T.E.A.M.) joined forces to expand the reach of the tobacco-free message. Classroom instruction and activities are derived from a program sponsored by Scholastic. Funding for this project is provided by Methodist Health System and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services/Tobacco Free Nebraska Program as a result of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

Katina Granger

About the Author:

Katina Granger is a Content Strategist for Methodist Health System and is passionate about telling stories that illustrate The Meaning of Care

See More Articles by Katina Granger