After securing a grant worth more than $700,000 earlier this year, the Glendale Unified school district has agreed to allot a portion of those funds to pay for animation workshops that will teach students how to make public service announcements that warn against using tobacco.

The California Dept. of Education awarded Glendale Unified $706,644 in July to implement its tobacco-use prevention education program for students in the sixth through 12th grades over the next three years.

More than $70,000 has already been allocated for NW4 Kids, an organization that will provide workshops and lessons to teach students how to use animation and create 30-second spots that convey anti-tobacco messages.

The district chose to work with NW4 Kids because it is a branch of AnimAction, Inc., an organization that previously trained Glendale students and teachers on how to produce anti-smoking animated spots.

Educators said they have found that the animation projects foster creativity, critical thinking and teamwork among youth as they collaborate in small production teams. After the teams create the short pieces, they will share them with fellow students.

For state education officials, tobacco-use prevention remains a high priority.

“This must be a priority because of the tobacco-industry activities target… minorities, youth and young adults,” said Greg Wolfe, who works for the state Dept. of Education’s school health and safety office.

The grant also pays for anti-smoking organizations to visit schools, present lessons and lead classroom discussions.

Glendale Unified was one of 17 school districts that received a total of $12.2 million in state funds to teach tobacco-use prevention.

Previous grant funds helped Glendale High students build a robot they named “Mr. Kick Butts” that they use to compete in robotics competitions and tote along to middle schools when they make presentations to younger students about refraining from smoking.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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