KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 7, 2001 -- Non-smoking advocates have been singing along to a new tune lately...or more precisely, rapping along to a new tune. University of Rhode Island sophomore Pedro Malave, a rap musician, spoken-word poet, and breakdancer, has been using his talents to spread a non-smoking message throughout the URI campus, Rhode Island, and the nation.
Malave, of Providence, has spent the past six years informing others about the dangers related to tobacco-use on stages across the country. Most recently he has worked with the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) to promote their Second-Hand Smoke Initiative. He has composed and recorded rap songs that have been aired on local radio stations.
Malave got his start as a performing artist while a tenth grader at the Feinstein High School when he started break-dancing with the Carriage House in Providence, a place for inner city youth to showcase their talents. Although he had been rapping and dancing with friends for years, the Carriage House gave him a chance to perform publicly. Malave and his friends soon put together a crew of breakdancers called the Carriage House B-Boys Youth Ensemble and they began to perform across the state in such arenas as local schools, Rhode Island College, and the Providence Performing Arts Center.
"The best part of it was the feeling of being out there, having the audience clapping and cheering for you. It was intense," said Malave.
Through the Carriage House, Malave also had the chance to do some rapping on his own. One of his first anti-tobacco raps, written with Jose Cortez for the Carriage Houses Healthy Habits Show, encourages youth to say no to smoking. Some of the lyrics tell students, "Its me son the sights of knowledge telling you that cigarettes is diabolic, its garbage you young kids you dont know what youre doing smoking cigarettes you know your life is straight up ruined."
Three years ago, Malave began working with the Rhode Island Department of Health and their smoke-free initiative.
"The Rhode Island Department of Health wants to get youth involved in what they are doing. I was interested in it and wanted to get a feel for it," explained Malave.
Malave learned of a national youth anti-tobacco campaign called American Legacy Force and was one of only a few Rhode Islanders selected to take part in the movement. He attended the Legacys first youth summit in September 1999, and was identified as a leader and trained in media so that he could become a spokesperson for the Legacys Truth Campaign.
Last summer he spent six weeks traveling across the country, visiting such states as Delaware, Washington D.C., Colorado, Arizona, and California with the Truth Campaign.
"It was a tour across the country where kids were talking to kids. What we would do was train the kids on anti-tobacco interests so they could start their own campaign in their own community. We wanted to get kids involved so that they know the truth about tobacco companies. By giving them the education, we can provide them with the knowledge so they can make their own decisions," explained Malave.
Malave is thrilled that the smoke-free campaign is moving into his own backyard at URI. URIs smoke-free initiative, called "Breathe Easy...URI is smokefree!" was announced last month.
"Smoke-free is definitely the way to go. College campuses arent informed. Students have to be made aware of the dangers. And it has to be done on all levels, not just with college kids. But college is a good place to start because younger kids look up to college students. One of Big Tobaccos biggest myths is that smoking is cool, and younger kids buy into that," he explained.
"I enjoy being able to provide people with a message they would not get otherwise. This is information they need and they need the information to be brought to them. Thats why initiatives like these are so important," Malave said.
For Information: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-2116, Jennifer Smith, 401-874-2116