I’m Mat. I have a mountain bike, and love getting to the gym whenever I can.
I go to school to socialize with friends (oh… and learn things) and over the past few years I’ve been working hard to be fitter, smarter and healthier so I can really do the things I want – I don’t want my dreams goin’ up in smokes! #notupinsmokes
Why I don’t smoke…
Sometimes school and learning can be stressful, but not if you’re making your own decisions. And one decision I make is not to smoke.
Smoking’s not something I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve never wanted to try, and that’s because I choose not to. I’ve got a lot of reasons. I’ve seen what it does when people want to give up and how much it’s a drain on your money.
I don’t want to be wasting my money away on cigarettes so I miss out on other things. I also think I wouldn’t be able to do what I can now if I was smoking. Like I’m really into bike riding now and I try to get out as much as I can – I rode about 36 kilometres around the local hills the other day.
If I was smoking I don’t think I’d have the time or money to keep up with the riding. I wouldn’t be as fit as I am now if I was smoking. I’m also asthmatic so it could really kill me, even now while I’m still young.
The smartest decision I made…
I think one of the smartest things I’ve done is to never take up smoking. I know how hard it would be to stop. But I don’t know why young people keep smoking when they can see how bad it is for them and when they hear all about people, our families, getting sick. I guess they think it’s easier to keep smoking but there’s also lots of help out there that they don’t bother accessing.
I’ve got better things to do…
Sometimes I feel a bit alienated because I don’t smoke and heaps of people around me smoke. But that’s probably what’s gotten me into other things, like going to the gym at school. It gives me something to do at lunchtime when friends are having a smoke. Now I’m a lot fitter and take pride in my body – it’s a great feeling. I don’t have to worry about smokes.
What I think makes you cool or good as a person is being yourself, not doing what you think looks good.
How I’ll help others…
I haven’t decided exactly what I’ll do when I finish school. But I reckon I’ll be looking for a job where I can work with kids and teenagers who need a bit of help, people like me now. I’m thinking about becoming a youth worker or something like that.
I’ve been able to learn a lot from older people – sometimes about what not to do, but I’ve learnt I can make my own decisions, and I want to help kids to be able to do that.
My message about dreams…
Find what you love, a dream that you have and don’t give up on it no matter how hard it gets. Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t be someone.
Mat is a student at Warriappendi School in Adelaide. He originally left school in year 9 and went on to complete a Certificate 3 in Construction at TAFE. But Mat realised that to get to the next level he needed the important learnings from high school.
Mat returned to school and at the same time he decided to focus more on being fit, strong and active. Mat’s now enjoying learning new things and socialising with friends at school, as well as being active everyday. He’s a non-smoker and he believes taking up smoking would have held him back more from living the life he wants and achieving his dreams.
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