I decided my next step towards getting the word out about the dangers of tobacco use would be to write a book. In July, my book, "Cool K.A.T.S. Don't Smoke" was published. And within a week, I was traveling across the country reading my book to 4th and 5th grade kids who were involved in the D.A.R.E. (Drug Alcohol Resistance Education) Program. This partnership has allowed me to reach so many kids my age, and share the story of "Tony and Lucy" and how smoking isn't cool - at all.
By the end of this year, I will have shared my book with more than 2000 kids. But I couldn't help wonder, "What about the kids who aren't in the D.A.R.E. Program?" There are many "at risk" kids in low-income areas who are 6X's more likely to turn to tobacco use because they are specifically targeted by tobacco companies. Together with my family, we are reaching out to these schools, doctors offices, social services, and children's homes to offer free copies of the book so the message can reach everyone. Sales of the book help support this effort, so we can all be a part of helping partner up to spread the news!
I want to finish by saying that creating this book wouldn't have been possible without the support of my parents, grandparents and the incredible illustration talents of Steven Wells, who brought the characters to life and helped tell the story of "Cool KAT Kitty". A huge thank you to Officer Novack, Officer Mendoza, and Srgt. Russel and all the officers and teachers who believe in, and continue to help create smoke-free future generations.