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Black History Month

March 2, 2021 - 1:15pm
posted by Press Release in news, Notre Dame, Black History Month, Just Kings, batavia.

Submitted photo and press release:

Notre Dame High School is pleased to announce a donation of $345 to Just Kings.

Just Kings is a Batavia-based organization whose mission is to provide a voice for the local Black community. They work to educate and mentor the youth, our neighbors and ourselves as we continue to fight to end racism.

Nya Thomas, a senior at Notre Dame, led the donation drive in honor of Black History Month.

Check out the important work they do at their Facebook page.

Photo: front row, from left: Alonzo Story, Mark Sanders, McKenzie Nenni, Nya Thomas, Ben Skanly, and Principal Wade Bianco; back row: Just Kings -- Eric Ricks, Victor Thomas, Robert Thurston, Oraid Edwards, Terry Smith, Otis Thomas and Brandon Armstrong.

March 1, 2021 - 2:50pm

Press release:

To honor #BlackHistoryMonth, students gather on Instagram Live to discuss the film “42” as well as tobacco use in movies and community health disparities.

A virtual movie event on “42,” The Jackie Robinson Story, spurred a lively Instagram Live discussion on multiple tobacco issues affecting our community and nation. 

On Feb. 25, Reality Check youth from Genesee County joined 100+ youth and community members from across New York State to honor #BlackHistoryMonth, as well as discuss the baseball movie and how it hits a home run on tobacco-related topics including: Tobacco use in movies; Big Tobacco’s targeted advertising; health disparities: and smokeless tobacco use.

The youth had a three-day window, from Feb. 23-25, to watch the movie independently, or as part of a group watch party, to prepare for the live discussion. The goal was to share what they learned with peers and members of the community to help reduce tobacco product use in their regions and beyond.

Tobacco Use in Movies

“42” includes several smoking scenes, particularly cigar smoking. This gave Reality Check leaders guiding the discussion the opportunity to educate youth on important facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that were also shared via social media channels the week preceding the event.

  • Smoking in movies recruits 187,000 new teen smokers every year; and
  • PG-13 films account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes youth see on the big screen.

“The more kids see smoking on screen, the more likely they are to smoke,” said Brittany Bozzer, Reality Check coordinator at Tobacco-Free Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties (TF-GOW).

“There’s no excuse for having smoking in movies that are rated to be sold to kids; we suggest giving an R rating to movies that include tobacco use.” 

According to Bozzer, giving an R rating to future movies with smoking would be expected to reduce the number of teen smokers by nearly 1 in 5, preventing up to 1 million deaths from smoking among children alive today.

Black History Month

Since “42” tells the story of the American legend Jackie Robinson, the first African American Major League Baseball player, the movie event and discussion included the issue of racial health disparities in our communities.

For more than 60 years, the tobacco industry has been a part of the problem by deliberately targeting the Black community with menthol cigarettes, which are more addictive, easier for kids to start using and harder for smokers to quit than other cigarettes.

To target Black demographics, the tobacco company Chesterfield used Jackie Robinson in cigarette ads in the 1950s. Athletes were desirable endorsers for cigarettes because they were perceived as healthier than the average citizen.

Teens also discussed how the tobacco industry profited while destroying Black lives and health. In the 1950s, less than 10 percent of Black smokers used menthol cigarettes. Today, 85 percent of Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death among Black Americans. It claims 45,000 Black lives each year, and Black Americans die at higher rates than other groups from tobacco-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Baseball and Chewing Tobacco

A final discussion topic of “42” and the Instagram Live event was Through With Chew week, a national, weeklong event meant to educate people about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, also known as chew, which has been used by professional athletes for decades.

The week of awareness included the Great American Spit Out on Feb. 25 this year, the day tobacco users across America aim to quit.


It is a youth led movement in New York State that empowers youth to become leaders in their communities in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The organization’s members create change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education.

Reality Check groups work in their communities by trying to limit the exposure of tobacco marketing in stores, help make smoke/vape-free public, work, and housing spaces, and limiting the exposure to smoking/vaping in movies.

These initiatives are to help discourage young people from becoming new daily smokers and encourage current smokers to quit. Reality Check GOW is a program of Tobacco-Free GOW and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

More information can be found at http://www.realitycheckofny.com and http://www.tobaccofreenys.com

January 28, 2021 - 1:30pm
posted by Press Release in Black History Month, Tops Friendly Markets, news.

Press release:

Tops Friendly Markets, a leading full-service grocery retailer in New York, northern Pennsylvania, and Vermont, is pleased to announce a unique opportunity for students in third through fifth grade to shine! February is Black History Month and for the past three decades Tops has been proud to salute and educate the community about those who have accomplished remarkable achievements in their lifetime.

Now it is your turn as the youth of America to honor those in your own lives whom you admire most who are of African American descent -- your mom, pastor, coach -- even your big brother.

Please submit a paragraph, or more, by Feb. 19 describing why they are someone you look up to for a chance to win not only $100 for your school, but a $50 Tops gift card for yourself so that you can treat your family, or the person nominated, to a special dinner and dessert.

“Tops has been dedicated to educating the community about Black History Month for the past three decades, but thought this year we’d welcome the youth of our community to share with us as to whom they admire,” said Kathy Sautter, public and media relations manager for Tops. “We hope that area teachers embrace this unique opportunity with their students -- whether they’re teaching virtually or in person.”

For more details on the contest, please visit http://topsmarkets.com/blackhistorymonth for contest rules and deadlines for submission. 

February 28, 2019 - 4:46pm


Press release:

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, the fourth through sixth grades in the Byron-Bergen Central School District hosted special guests as part of their Black History Month celebration.

Olivia Kim, adjunct professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, shared her experience with the Frederick Douglass sculpture project and “Discover Douglass” self-guided walking tour.

Kim sculpted the 6’7” monument of Douglass out of more than 200 pounds of clay to commemorate the 200-year anniversary of Douglass’ chosen birthday, Feb. 14, 1818. From her mold, 13 statues were completed and placed around Rochester.

The students learned about the complex process to create each of the statues as well as the significance Douglass holds in the Rochester community.

Community educator and choreographer Marcus Bowens shared the history and global influence of hip-hop. Hip-hop originated in New York City in the 1970s and has since spread around the world influencing diverse cultures. Bowens is a Master hip-hop dancer.

“Dance is a form of celebration and expression,” Bowens told the students. “Dance is contagious.

He then led the students in a celebration of hip-hop through a choreographed danced in which everyone participated.

Miriam Tardy, Siomara Caballero, and Hannah Catalino, all Byron-Bergen Senior High School students, introduced the students to the real life characters portrayed in the movie "Hidden Figures."

Their introduction included an overview of segregation and an interactive activity. Students and staff shared something that they were proud of and noted that "Hidden Figures" features real people who were not credited for the vital role they played at NASA until many decades later.

“Don’t let your accomplishments be hidden,” the three presenters concluded.

The day ended with a special screening of "Hidden Figures."

Photos and video courtesy of Gretchen Spittler, Byron-Bergen Communications specialist.

Above, Olivia Kim, Marcus Bowen, Miriam Tardy, Siomara Caballero and Hannah Catalino.
Above, Olivia Kim.
Above, Byron-Bergen Senior High students provide background for the movie "Hidden Figures."
Above, Byron-Bergen senior high students discuss segregation with elementary school students.
Above, Marcus Bowen with Byron-Bergen students.
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