STAND Workshop Brings Together Youth in Anti-Tobacco Mission
(January 20, 2015)
Support Teens Against Tobacco Use (STAND) utilizes the passion and energy of youth engagement to raise community awareness activities around tobacco use and to advocate for desired changes in tobacco policies at the local, state or national level.
In 2014, seven youth groups across Idaho were each awarded a $1,000 STAND grant. Grant recipients included Leadore High School, Compass Academy in Idaho Falls, Marsh Valley High School, Twin Falls High School, Emmett’s Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) youth, St. Maries Middle School and Clark Fork High School. Each group sent two youth representatives and an adult advisor to a weekend workshop intended to provide the youth with the tools to meet grant requirements. The workshop was held in Boise on November 6-8 of 2014. It began Thursday evening with the youth discussing tobacco products and which ones were used most frequently in their community and why. Participants were then familiarized with the potential dangers of emerging tobacco products like e-cigarettes and mini cigars. On day 2, participants began exploring activism and what it means to be a youth activist. Heather Kimmel, Idaho’s Executive Director for the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific, discussed the differences between Advocacy and Activism and taught the group about different approaches to activism. The highlight of the day was touring the Idaho State Capitol with State Senator Fred Martin (R-15). The day concluded with the teens brainstorming and identifying goals for their grant project and recognizing available resources, allies and opponents. The third day the group shared their projects and role played scenarios as they practiced their policy change approach in their community.
Grant recipients are expected to fulfill two general requirements by May 15 ,2015: (1) to raise awareness in their school, community, or state of the dangers of tobacco use and build a sense of urgency for addressing the problem; (2) to identify a policy or existing situation around tobacco that needs changing, and engage with decision makers to make that change. There are almost unlimited ways these requirements can be met. In the last fiscal year, grant recipients worked to make St. Maries City Park smoke free; banned e-cigarettes on school property in Emmett and rewrote the school policy to include all forms of tobacco and nicotine products; created anti-tobacco-use signage for the Meridian Senior Center (as it serves as a venue for weddings and parties) and much more. The STAND program is an exciting way to get youth connected to the American Lung Association while also reinforcing their personal anti-tobacco beliefs as they enter the impressionable teen years.