Pictured from left to right are D'Ambrah Watts, Casey Carmichael, Joe Gallaspy, Ella Gibbs and Hope Ellison.
Pictured from left to right are D'Ambrah Watts, Casey Carmichael, Joe Gallaspy, Ella Gibbs and Hope Ellison.
Eight Madison Central High School students spent this school year as part of the state’s anti-tobacco campaign, Reject All Tobacco (RAT).

Youth Programs Coordinator with the Partnership for a Healthy MS Christina Spann, who oversees the RAT program, said that they had a productive season this school year.

“The Madison RAT Troupe gave it their all this year. Overcoming obstacles by being a fairly new team and learning new steps, each show was a great improvement. This year they reached over 10 elementary schools in 10 different counties. Spreading Terrance the RATs message of Reject All Tobacco to over 2,000 kindergartens through sixth-grade students,” Spann said.

The Madison Central RAT Troupe consists of Hope Ellison, Casey Carmichael, Caleb Lyall, Rob Embry, Joe Gallaspy, Ella Gibbs, Sydney Storm and D’Ambrah Watts. Their school sponsor is Michelle Ellison.

Nikki Johnson, youth programs director for the partnership, said that RAT performances represent a profound impact on students lives, who may be hearing the information for the first time.

“The teens have a lot of fun performing for the various schools,” Johnson said. “But the greatest part of performing is in knowing that we are impacting the lives of these children and the future choices they will make.”

Last month, The Madison RAT Troupe performed and completed educational classroom presentations at East Flora Elementary.  

Students learned about the impact of tobacco on the lungs, heart, mouth and skin. After the presentations, the Troupe performed for over 300 kindergarten through third-grade students with their iconic animated RAT named Terrance, who engages students through interactive singing and dancing with “catchy tunes and a lasting message.”

Madison Central is one of five schools that has a Rat Troupe this school year. Others include Northwest Rankin High School, Oxford High School, Simmons High school in Hollandale and Oak Grove High School.

Combined, the educational troupes reached thousands of elementary students through its performances and taught them to “Reject All Tobacco.” 

This RAT season was funded by a grant from the Mississippi State Department of Health. 

For more information on RAT Pack and future performances contact the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi at 601-420-2414 or visit www.gorat.com.