Kick Butts Day and Summer Summit Recap
By: Kamrin Edmonds
At this year’s Kick Butts Day, we had record attendance of more than 130 youth and group sponsors from across the state. We had a short, but very productive 24 hours together on March 15-16. Students were bussed in Tuesday night and were educated by the Youth Board about No Limits and Big Tobacco 101, how to educate senators, and how to have a successful march and rally. Everyone had plenty of time to make buttons, posters, practice their chants, and do mock meetings to prepare for the next morning. On Wednesday, we broke into district groups and met with our assigned senator as well as one other senator. Once we dropped off all of our informational packets and finished our meeting, we met up with the rest of the groups and grabbed our posters and megaphones. We split into two groups and marched around downtown Lincoln proudly holding our posters and chanting as loud as we could. The two groups marched as one to the State Capitol steps for the rally where youth board members, Brooklyn Larimore and Cecelia Ponce, gave speeches along with Senator Mike Gloor. It was great to hear from Senator Gloor who has been a big supporter of youth tobacco prevention. Even though our time together was short, I know I will never forget this year’s Kick Butts Day!
This summer, we held our annual activism summit at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, bringing in 44 youth from 15 different towns. Youth and sponsors arrived May 25. The first day, youth board members gave presentations on new and emerging tobacco products, the history of marketing, and tobacco in entertainment. For evening entertainment, youth enjoyed the nice weather and celebrated their talents outside of tobacco prevention by writing poems or songs and creating skits. The next morning, we listened to the adult presentations which included information about interviewing, media literacy, and social media. Students then spent time working on activism projects to take back to their own community and created posters for the human billboard activism. The second evening of the summit was spent playing “Minute to Win It” games. We finished the night with a sombering Project 1300 Candlelight Memorial activism where 1,300 candles were set up and youth were given the chance to reflect on how Big Tobacco has affected their lives. On the last morning, those who attended the Philip Morris USA Shareholders Meeting presented about their experience. After spending three days with other like-minded youth, students returned to their communities ready to plan a new year of fighting Big Tobacco.
No Limits Youth Board
By: Thomas Honeywell
The No Limits Youth Board is the guiding body of the No Limits Youth Empowerment Movement. This group of teens work together to decide on the year’s theme, create the messaging and presentations, and lead sessions and ice breakers, all while planning multiple events across the state. Every June, the No Limits Youth Board finishes up their year long term and a new board is initiated. This summer we had to say goodbye to three graduating seniors. Lincoln High graduate Joanna Hejl has been a part of No Limits for many years and served multiple terms on the Youth Board. Malcolm graduate Kiley Carroll has been an active youth board member for the past three terms. Lexii Goetschius graduated from Hartington-Newcastle and fulfilled one year on the youth board. We would like to thank them for all of their hard work over the years!
The 2016-2017 No Limits Youth Board consists of 10 teens from across the state of Nebraska. The teens selected this year are; Briann Wolfe from Broken Bow, Brooklyn Larimore from Bellevue, Cecelia Ponce from Hartington, Hailey Holmer from Lincoln, Kallyn Antholz from Johnson, Kamrin Edmonds from Wilber, Maya Gardner from Bennet, Tayte Jussel from Ewing, Thomas Honeywell from Crofton, and Ziera Nickerson from Kearney. We are excited to have five returning board members and five new members. All of us on the youth board couldn’t wait to get things kicked off this year and hope you are all looking forward to our events as much as we are!
Philip Morris USA Shareholders Meeting
By: Briann Wolfe
Philip Morris USA is the largest cigarette manufacturer in the United States. Each year, the company’s shareholders have the opportunity to attend a meeting and get an update on the company’s sales and discuss the company’s plans for the next fiscal year. This year, the hot topic of discussion in the meeting was Altria’s corporate responsibility initiatives. The meeting was held in Richmond, Virginia, home of the Altria headquarters.
Four No Limits youth were able to attend this event in Virginia on May 16 through 18. Brooklyn Larimore, Kamrin Edmonds, Kiley Carroll, and Briann Wolfe flew to Virginia for two days of education and empowerment. There, we met up with youth from New York’s Reality Check to learn specifically about Altria. While in Virginia, we also completed a tobacco scavenger hunt where we canvassed local convenience stores and took notes about different products, product placements, and advertisements we saw. Leaders and youth from New York and Nebraska brainstormed chants and memorized them in preparation for the big day.
On the day of the shareholders’ meeting, the youth were fired up and ready to show their passion for stopping Big Tobacco. All of the youth marched to the meeting site wearing special t-shirts, skeleton masks, and sunglasses while holding posters and black balloons. We covered almost an entire bock when we lined up outside of the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Shareholders making their way into the meeting were met with voices of passion. As the meeting went on, we continued chanting, and didn’t stop until every shareholder had left the meeting. During the protest, we saw a few interesting things. In the all glass building behind us sat a man in a rocking chair who was just staring until the youth turned toward his direction. He then stood up and walked away, dragging his rocking chair behind him. As the shareholders exited the meeting, a few stopped to talk to students, voicing their support for standing up for what they believe in. Some shareholders, of course, were not as perceptive and one even mimicked smoking a cigarette as he walked past. This trip was very eye-opening for the youth who attended and they came back to Nebraska with an even bigger passion for tobacco prevention.
Op-Ed: Tobacco Free Parks
By: Brooklyn Larimore
Big Tobacco has already put a target on the backs of youth by guiltlessly gearing their product marketing toward kids. Parks, which have been associated with “kids at play” for years, should be an area in which youth have zero exposure to tobacco products. Running from a friend while playing tag is a lot more enjoyable than running through a cloud of smoke or over a freshly spat glob of tobacco leaves. It makes sense for parks to have tobacco-free policies because the two simply don’t mix. Youth, as well as everyone else, deserve clean air.
Parks are one of the very few places left that haven’t joined the tobacco-free club. Secondhand smoke, no matter where the smoker is at, is harmful. It contains around 7,000 different chemicals, 70 of which are cancer causing. Children are even more likely to fall to the effects of secondhand smoke than adults since they are still developing. Youth’s exposure to secondhand smoke causes more frequent and severe respiratory infections, asthma, ear infections, and chronic cough. Over time, constant exposure to secondhand smoke will worsen the effects of these illnesses. Tobacco use in parks not only affects the health of youth, but it also sends them the image that using tobacco is okay. Yes, everybody knows tobacco is bad, but even with this knowledge, people still use it, which sends youth a mixed message.
The less often youth are exposed to tobacco, the less likely they will start using tobacco. In order to keep our youth healthy, and to make sure they are playing in a clean and healthy environment, tobacco-free parks are the way to go.