You’re Empowered, so let’s #FinishIt

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In January, 2014, I was selected as one of four Legacy National Youth Activism Fellows. Legacy is the largest non-profit in the United States that solely works on the issue of tobacco. As a National Youth Activism Fellow, I am charged with working on a local project, which has become known to many as Tobacco #Adwareness. I also help promote the truth national campaign, #FinishIt, which is expected to engage thousands of youth and young adults throughout the nation. Thus far, the fellowship has allowed me to be featured in the Florida A & M University FAMUAN newspaper and on healthline.com. I have also visited Washington, DC, San Francisco, Chicago and, most recently, the Pine Tree State of Maine on behalf of Legacy. Simply due to my participation in upholding Legacy’s mission, which is to engage young people, invaluable resources have been provided to my community and communities near me.

On October 27–28, 2014, nearly 250 youth from across the state of Maine gathered in the Augusta Civic Center located in Augusta, Maine for the 4th Annual Maine Youth Action Network Summit. It was definitely a WOW moment for me to observe all of the youth leaders actively seeking to engage their peers from across the state. I was particularly impressed by the diverse groups represented at the event, including individuals of the Muslim faith and the LGBT community.

My role during this summit was to empower youth and adults that work with youth. Fortunately, everyone in attendance was fired up and ready to go since the commencement of the event. Within the first ten minutes of the Empowerment Tour, formally known as a presentation, I realized that the youth simply wanted to know how to inform others while maintaining engagement with little to no financial resources. I unveiled “The Picture of Activism,” which creatively demonstrated how advocacy, education, organizing, and service work in tandem to create well-rounded activism. By the conclusion of our Empowerment Tour, the passengers had internalized various activities they can conduct at home in order to engage and empower their community.

Now that the national youth smoking rates have reached an all time low of 9%, it is extremely exciting to know that there are an additional 250 youth in the Gold Star State that are empowered enough to help #FinishIt. There is still time to join the Empowerment Tour, so discover your “Picture of Activism” and let’s #FinishIt!

For more information on the four components of activism check out the Legacy Youth Activism Guide. If you are already using any of the four components of activism, please share your experiences in the comment section below.

 

Author: Vincent Irving

Vincent is the Tobacco Prevention Specialist for the Florida Department of Health in Leon County and the Tobacco Free Leon movement. Vincent has over 7 years of tobacco prevention experience and is currently a Youth Activism Fellow with Legacy.

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