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"Brown Out" means a power surge for East Jordan and Charlevoix students

EAST JORDAN - Expect a power surge at the Friday night basketball game in East Jordan. As the Red Devils are taking on the visiting Charlevoix Rayders, students from both schools will be taking a powerful stand against tobacco use among area teens.

The "Brown Out" is a new project to fight teen tobacco use. It was launched and is being led by SAFE Youth, a volunteer group of Charlevoix and Emmet County high school students whose goal is a Substance Abuse-Free Environment (SAFE). According to Susan Pulaski, who is facilitating the project in her role as Community Health Coordinator for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, the students designed "Brown Out" anti-tobacco T-shirts, arranged sponsors to cover the costs, and made arrangements to distribute the shirts - at no charge - to students attending school basketball games. Having already coordinated successful Brown Outs at basketball games in Boyne City and Petoskey, Pulaski says the SAFE Youth are fired up to continue their momentum in East Jordan.

"The students made this happen, from start to finish," Pulaski said. "It's that important to them. Even though we only had enough to give out to students, it was interesting to see how many parents wanted shirts, too!"

Emilee Evans, a SAFE Youth senior at Boyne City High School, said she was surprised by the support from parents. "It was an amazing experience to have proud parents come up to me and ask for T-shirts because they have remained tobacco-free, and would love to spread our message," she said. "It was inspiring to see our Boyne City High School section wearing their shirts and supporting the boys' JV/Varsity basketball team. I think anyone who saw us will definitely give that cigarette another thought before using."

Harbor Springs junior Abby Detmar said SAFE Youth and the Brown Out events are ways to raise awareness and protect youth from a lifetime of tobacco-related health problems. "I think it's important to educate our community about the dangers of tobacco, especially with teens," she said. The Rayders vs. Red Devils game begins at 5:30 at East Jordan High School, and the Brown Out begins at 5pm, when shirts will be made available to students. For more information about other upcoming Brown Out events in Harbor Springs and Pellston, contact Susan Pulaski at (231) 347-5813 or

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties. Call (800) 432-4121 for more information.