Hi, my name is Alex and I’m a senior at Christiansburg High School in Virginia. This my third year in Y Street and my first year on the Y Street Leadership Team. A week ago, a few other Y Street members and I drove to Richmond to talk with Delegates and Senators about a new bill that could make ALL schools in Virginia 100% tobacco and e-cigarette free. The 24/7 Campaign is one that I have always loved being a part of, mainly because of my best friend who has severe asthma. This new bill could make it so that she doesn’t have to worry about secondhand smoke at school events like football games, which is really exciting!
On on this day, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth hosted a breakfast for delegates and senators where myself and 14 other Y-Sters had the chance to talk about the work we do in Y Street. Starting at around 8:30 in the morning, some members began leaving for meetings with legislators in the General Assembly Building. We talked to about 20 legislators about the bill and how we would love if they would support it. We had some really successful meetings. Delegate Hurst even signed on as a co-patron for the bill! That same day SB 1295 was passed out of the Senate Education Committee and sent to the Floor.
Going out and talking about the issues that the 24/7 Campaign is all about was a really great chance not just for us, but for the legislators that we talked to as well. We were able to actively go out and tell our representatives what goes on in our hometowns and what we do as Y Street to try and make a healthier Virginia. After this amazing opportunity, I can see just how important youth activism is and how effective it can be. It doesn’t matter if it is going to a principal meeting to discuss signage and a toolkit or going to Richmond to meet with legislators; youth activism is about being an active member of something that could change people’s lives for the better. As of now, the bill has been passed through the Senate and is on its way through the House of Delegates! Hopefully, HB 2384 will soon be passed into law and we will all be one giant step closer to a healthier Virginia.