Fighting Tobacco in Schools: A Firsthand Account
Youth Action for Healthy Leadership, or YAHL, is a youth-led health initiative funded by the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET). YAHL programs promote healthy living among teens and encourage strong leadership skills that will help carry them through the rest of their lives.
Now, sophomore Gracie Kennedy is sharing her testimonial with Tobacco Stops With Me on how YAHL is working in her life.
My name is Gracie Kennedy, and I am a sophomore at Sperry High School. As a freshman, I got involved in Youth Action for Healthy Leadership because the thought of becoming a leader in my school and community intrigued me. I want to make a difference in the lives of those around me. Through YAHL, I have improved my social skills and confidence as a leader. I know how to better communicate with my peers and others about subjects I am passionate about, such as one of our campaigns, CounterAct Tobacco. YAHL is an incredible program that promotes health for future generations, and I have learned so much by being a part of this community of young leaders.
YAHL works in many ways to help prevent tobacco use in our youth and community. When we educate people, we work to create emotion and passion for YAHL and hopefully gain their support. We also work to gain the support of businesses in our communities.
Preventing tobacco use is important to me for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that I see the harm tobacco use causes in the lives of my classmates and friends. So many people in my high school are victims of nicotine addiction. This motivates me to stay tobacco free and to help take a stand against it. Another reason I stay tobacco free is that my grandma is a smoker, and I have seen the devastating health impact it has had in her life since she started smoking at 14. I want to do everything I can to prevent this from happening to our generation. I want to stay healthy and active and lead an impactful life. These reasons motivate me to stay tobacco free.
Tobacco products are so heavily advertised that it has become a normal part of life. They have so many side effects that are hindering our generation’s future. By taking down Big Tobacco, we can build healthier communities with brighter futures and become leaders and dutiful citizens.
The temptation is all around us, making tobacco products a large obstacle, especially for our youth. Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 teenagers are exposed to nicotine products and become addicted. I go to a small high school, which means more than 30 of my classmates smoke or are exposed or are exposed to it at home. Most of the teens that use nicotine don’t understand the consequences it has on their lives and bodies, which is why we strive to serve and promote our cause.
I want the best for my school and community, for my peers to be the best versions of themselves and be aware of the risks they’re taking and to make a difference in the lives of those who need it. I aspire to be as determined and committed as my fellow YAHL leaders, working every day to make our state — and our world — a healthier place.