My name is Jarielle, I am a junior at Brunswick High School and I have been a member of Y-Street for 2 years now. As a member of Y-Street, my school focuses on two major campaigns. One of our campaigns is called 24/7. As an activist for this campaign, I have worked with my campaign manager to influence my school district into updating the Tobacco Policies. So far, my school has been very successful, and our school board has been very positive towards implementing the new materials to make our school district tobacco free. This campaign is very important to me because I live in an area where tobacco is a popular crop. Students at my school chew and smoke tobacco products. I believe in this campaign because I want my peers to live happy and healthier lives without the negative influences of society.
One of the perks that comes with the 24/7 campaign is a major event called the Fall Day of Action. This was the first year my school has participated in the campaign and we used our school’s cafeteria during lunch shifts to increase student participation. Our student body was very supportive of the movement and we collected over 50 surveys. My peers enjoyed hanging the Thanks Giving themed cards on the close line to show their spirit and participation. As YSLT members, a fellow YSLT (Desmyn Owens) and myself, recruited 5 other members to walk around the cafeteria and get students attention. The students love to see a Y-Street table at lunch and are always excited to ask questions. One of my peers even said that she supports the campaign because her father never smoked a day in his life but died of lung cancer. He was a construction worker who had developed cancer from second hand smoke. Her story touched my heart because it shows that even people in society who don’t use tobacco products are affected by them every day.
As a teen in high school, I realize that this is one of the most critical areas in our lives. I believe that peer pressure can also have a positive side. As a youth activist, I know what can persuade people my age and know that advice coming from your friends is easier to take than advice of a parent or other adult. Seeing the participation at the Fall Day of Action Event allowed me to see that I am not alone. There are many people my age who want to change society for the better and just need a voice to do so. Y-Street is that voice. Working with adults who want to create a better life for teens is a true blessing. Soon, I plan to continue working with my school board to make our division 100% tobacco free.