Reality Check Teens Learn ABC’s of Advocacy at SUNY Cobleskill

Nineteen teens involved with the Reality Check youth tobacco-free program learned the basics of advocacy at a recent regional training day based at SUNY Cobleskill.

The staff of Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS) planned and hosted the “Don’t be Fooled by Big Tobacco” event to help youth advocates speak truth to power by standing up for tobacco control initiatives.

The Reality Check teen advocates learned about civic engagement and ways to convey effective messages about tobacco awareness and prevention as they strive to build healthier communities. Teens increased their knowledge about legislative, media and digital advocacy and how letters-to-the editor, meeting with town board members, recording and posting YouTube videos and conducting surveys can be used to create change in communities. Teen participants came from Broome, Fulton, Madison, Otsego, Tioga and Ulster Counties. Jillian Johnson, Jasmine Neill, Ahna Misiewicz and Arianna Mosenson, students from Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School, took part in the day’s learning experiences.

Assemblyman Peter Lopez, a SUNY Cobleskill alumnus, spoke to the teens about civic engagement and ways they can make a difference in their communities. “I love my community and am driven to improve the quality of life for everyone I can,” he said. “Although challenging and time consuming, I do my best to fulfill this goal each day.”

Reality Check Youth Advocates with Tobacco Power WallDr. Doug MacLeod Talks to Reality Check Teens Kyle Adams & Reality Check Youth Advocates2

Top: Reality Check youth advocates in front of the Tobacco Power Wall. Bottom left: Dr. Doug MacLeod talks digital advocacy. Bottom right: Kyle Adams discusses effective communication with the media.

Kyle Adams, staff writer at SUNY Cobleskill and SUNY Delhi, shared messaging strategies to help convey information with media outlets. Dr. Douglas MacLeod, Jr., Assistant Professor of Composition and Communications at SUNY Cobleskill, relayed ideas about engaging audiences to create champions for a cause through digital advocacy.

The New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control funds ATFC-DOS to increase support for New York State’s tobacco-free norm through youth action and community engagement. ATFC-DOS is part of the Research Foundation of SUNY at SUNY Cobleskill.

(Header image: Peter Lopez with Reality Check youth advocates)