A group of Shelbyville High School students were spotted bending over and picking up cigarette butts Friday morning as curious passengers in cars watched while driving by.
Five students volunteered part of their morning to clean up Morrison Park and along Miller and Colescott streets as part of Kick Butts day, a nationwide initiative for students to clean up their communities. Fifteen students from Southwestern High School later cleaned up around the Shelby County Public Library and Blue River Foundation building later that day.
The two groups are members of the Shelby County Drug Free Coalition youth council, which meets once a month as a group.
Youth coordinator Lizzy Clark was pleased with the group’s effort to clean up around the park on Friday morning.
“I’m proud of them for five students being able to come,” she said.
Other Shelbyville students who are members of the council were unable to participate because they were ill.
The group worked their way around the park looking for old cigarettes left on the ground before crossing the Girls Inc. parking lot and making their way down Miller Street.
Abigail Miller, a senior from Shelbyville, said they wanted to do a “community-wide impact” project.
The two sides – Shelbyville and Southwestern – decided to turn the volunteer work into a competition, she said. The plan is to put all of the cigarettes collected in a glass tube to be put on display at the high schools “to show the impact for how bad it is for your health,” she said.
The goal is to get more community members and groups such as Healthy Shelby County and the mayor involved next year.
“Since there were a couple of months left in the school year, we decided to make it competitive,” Clark said, adding there wasn’t enough time to get outside community members involved.
The winner of the competition will enjoy a donut party and be recognized at the Orange Ribbon Breakfast, scheduled for April 5.
An estimated 1.6 billion pounds of cigarette filters litter communities in Indiana each year, according to Indiana’s Voice Campaign. Drug Free Shelby County was one of the partners to participate in the clean up, which is actually scheduled for Wednesday. Since local students will be on Spring Break that week, the council decided to move it up to Friday.
According to research through the campaign, cigarettes have a 65 percent chance of being littered. At that rate, nine trillion cigarettes will be consumed by 2025. According to Voice, 38 percent of litter is made up of tobacco products along roads each year.