Lady Pacer Kodi Driver featured on posters encouraging youth to stay away from tobacco

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The caption reads: “The only things I smoke are my opponents” — and the volleyball player featured on the large poster will look very familiar to residents of Switzerland County.

Lady Pacer senior Kodi Driver is featured on the poster, which is a part of the Role Model Program sponsored by the Indiana High School Athletic Association in conjunction with the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency.

On the poster Kodi Driver is shown digging a volleyball, and her likeness is also featured on pocket schedules that are available all around the county. The schedule for the Lady Pacer volleyball team is found on the bottom of the poster.

“It’s pretty overwhelming, really,” Kodi Driver said at the public unveiling of the poster at the high school on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Kodi Driver was selected by officials at the high school to be Switzerland County’s representative in the program because of her good character, athletic achievement, and community service. Along with volleyball, Kodi Driver also participates in basketball and softball.

On hand for the unveiling of the poster was Kim Crawford of the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency; high school principal Derek Marshall; and athletic director Kent Dunning.

A photo shoot was held this summer for the pictures — and was held ironically just one day before Kodi Driver tore her ACL in a summer basketball game, which currently has her rehabilitating in preparation for the winter and spring sports seasons.

The IHSAA Role Model Program addresses issues that are important to the well-being of Indiana teens — like tobacco use, and it encourages student-athletes to recognize that they are role models in their home communities. Funding for the program is provided by the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency (ITPC) and its community coalitions, SmokefreeIndiana and local power cooperatives.

The program is in its third year and produces one customized poster design for each school. This year’s posters and pocket schedules carry the headline: “The only things I smoke are my opponents.” They are designed to encourage youth to make healthy decisions about tobacco use.

According to national statistics, tobacco is often the first drug used by kids who may eventually use alcohol and illegal drugs. Compared with nonsmokers, teens who smoke are three times more likely to use alcohol, eight times more likely to smoke marijuana and 22 times more like to use cocaine. Educating youth on the dangers of smoking is an important step in reducing the effects of tobacco use.

“These student-athletes are achieving at a high level in their schools, in sports and in their communities. They are excellent role models for the youth of Indiana,” said IHSAA Commissioner Blake Ress. “They are committed to making the right choices to help make their communities healthier places to live.”

A record 114 high schools from across the state are participating in the 2005 Role Model Program. These schools will receive more than 23,000 posters and 116,000 pocket schedules to distribute in their communities.

Those are currently available at Switzerland County High School.

The program asks athletic directors to nominate an athlete to represent their high school. To qualify, student-athletes must be a sophomore, junior or senior and demonstrate athletic achievement, good academic standing, excellent citizenship and positive decision-making. The nominees have to sign a pledge agreeing to be tobacco, drug and alcohol free and serve as role models.

Each participating school receives 200 posters and 1,000 pocket schedules free of charge. A new addition to the program, the pocket schedule features the poster image and up to three team schedules. Educators are encouraged to display the posters in their high school, the middle and elementary schools that feed their high school and in local businesses. The pocket schedules are distributed throughout the community and are designed to encourage attendance at local high school athletic events.

The IHSAA and its corporate partners believe the program will continue to help reduce tobacco use among teens in Indiana.

“All of our role models lead healthy and positive lives,” added Commissioner Ress. “We know that through this program they are encouraging others to do the same.”