Thanks to pupils at a Glasgow primary school the “teddy bear” featured in a colourful story book about secondhand smoking now has a name!
Class 1C at St Mungo’s Primary School in Townhead have come up with the name “Gus” for the cuddly character in “Jenny and the Bear”, the tale written by Linda Morris, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Health Improvement Lead for Schools.
The colourful booklet tells about how a teddybear and his young owner are affected by secondhand smoke and it has been circulated to primary schools throughout NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).
And Linda personally presented certificates to the winning class at morning assembly earlier today (Friday, March 18).
Linda said: “I think ‘Gus’ is a great name for my fictional bear and I want to thank the St Mungo’s pupils for a very imaginative suggestion!”
Primary classes were invited to take part in the competition to suggest a name and the winner was drawn from a hat, plus a bear just like the one in the story has been given a new home in St Mungo’s.
Linda went on: “While youngsters will enjoy hearing about the escapades of ‘Jenny and the Bear’, the real target audience is parents and carers with the message ‘protect your family by making your home and car Smokefree and take smoking outside’.
“The idea is that the story book is taken home not just for parents to read to their children, but also for them to hopefully pick up on the message that smoking around their children can cause health problems.
“Once the story is read the youngsters then have ‘homework’ to do by being asked to colour in a picture of Jenny and the bear at the end of the book.”
Linda added: “Copies of the books can also become part of the classroom library and be used for other educational activities.”
The tale begins with Jenny being bought the bear as a treat from her Granny, and goes on to describe how her parents’ smoking at home and in the car makes her cough and the bear’s “nose” becomes “blocked” and his throat feels “very jaggy.”
Towards the end of the story Jenny’s cough is so bad that her mother takes her to their GP who suggest that her parents stop smoking in their home and smoke outside.
“The back page of the book carries some hard hitting facts and figures about why cigarettes can have an adverse affect on children,” went on Linda.
“This includes the fact that children are more at risk because their lungs are still growing and immune systems are not fully developed.
“It also explains that poisonous substances from the 4000 chemicals in every cigarette can remain in a room or car for months, the fact that children who live with smokers are three times more likely to smoke themselves, and frighteningly children can breathe in around 150 cigarettes a year when adults smoke around them.”
The back page also offers advice and where to find help if they want to quit smoking by calling Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84 or visit the website – www.nhsggc.org.uk/smokefreeservices
The project is part of NHSGGC’s campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure in the home and car, in particular towards children.
Glasgow City Council Bailie Jean McFadden, Executive Member for Education, said: "Congratulations to the youngsters at St Mungo's Primary school. I know that they will look after and treasure 'Gus', the new addition to their school and he will be a permanent reminder of the book which has a very important message about passive smoking."
And if this simple story proves effective it may lead to spin-offs looking at obesity, toothbrushing, and perhaps behaviour.
For more information or images contact either NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications tel: 0141 201 4429 or email: [email protected]