California Youth Advocacy Network’s 2021 Youth Quest
On March 15th and 17th, ten Breathe Youth Advisory Board and Rio Americano Public Health Club students participated in the 2021 Youth Quest event. This is an annual youth event organized by the California Youth Advocacy Network and this year’s theme was “Times Change. Issues Remain. Tobacco Gains.” This event included a virtual kickoff and training on March 15th where students learned about the theme of the event as well as key messaging and talking points. This year’s focus included 4 key messages:
- The tobacco industry strategically targets racial minorities, low-income individuals, and members of the LGBTQ+ community through its appealing advertisements and promotion.
- Tobacco companies’ prey on individuals who are affected by mental health issues.
- The larger issues of tobacco use have been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Time’s up, Big Tobacco! Youth are leading efforts across California to prevent the industry from addicting a new generation of users.
Students were also provided supporting facts, talking points, and a social media campaign that connected to these key messages. The students received a training and watched live virtual skits that trained them on how to participate in a legislative visit. They also spent time taking this information they learned and strategizing and creating their communications effort for a legislative visit.
On March 17th, seven students were able to participate in a 30-minute legislative visit. They met with Assembly Member McCarty’s legislative staffer Christine Miyashiro to share how tobacco impacts their lives, why they are youth advocates, and how the tobacco industry is targeting youth. Our students shared about the vaping epidemic and the social justice concerns surrounding tobacco. The students did an amazing job and answered the staffers questions with clear expertise and knowledge! We are SO proud of them! This is a Zoom screenshot of the students meeting with the staffer that we included on a thank you to the Assembly Member’s office.