UpRISE: taking a stand against youth tobacco use

0
192
photo by Henry Cullum | (Back L to R)Teresa Cantwell, Landon Williams, (2nd row L to R) Khai Hughes, Jesus Dominguez, Madison Jump, Gisselle Garcia, Isabella Galindo, (3rd row L to R) Itzel Nayeli, Tiffany Luttrell, Hayley Graham, Jessica Gregory, Angel Castillo, Iliana Castillo (Front L to R) Omar Dominguez, Jacob Murphy, Dustin Beason
photo by Henry Cullum | (Back L to R)Teresa Cantwell, Landon Williams, (2nd row L to R) Khai Hughes, Jesus Dominguez, Madison Jump, Gisselle Garcia, Isabella Galindo, (3rd row L to R) Itzel Nayeli, Tiffany Luttrell, Hayley Graham, Jessica Gregory, Angel Castillo, Iliana Castillo (Front L to R) Omar Dominguez, Jacob Murphy, Dustin Beason

by Henry Cullum
Teresa Cantwell, the Youth Development Coordinator Sponsored by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, has been arranging UpRISE meetings and visiting West Grand and Middle Park High School every week.

The last two meetings have been a combination of introducing kids to the mission and meaning of the UpRISE program. Students who showed interest and attended were supplied lunch at the last three meetings. Students who not only showed up to the first meeting, but continued to show up, were given gift cards. So far in the West Grand High School they have had 20 kids show interest by showing up to the meetings, while 10 kids have showed up to the meeting in Middle Park High School.

UpRISE an acronym for resist, inspire, step-up and empower is hoping to derail teenage tobacco use with a mission and picture for the community According to Cantwell, “We are a youth-driven movement for the state of Colorado that seeks to build diverse youth leaders who understand that tobacco is a social justice issue,” she said.

“These leaders will take action to contest the unjust policies and systems that have contributed to youth tobacco use and addiction. Twenty-two youth organizations and schools across Colorado will participate in the movement,” Cantwell continued.

Daniel Martinez, Junior Youth Programs Senior Specialist for Grand Futures, wrote in an email, “Our mission statement is: Amplifying Colorado young people’s passions to shift perspectives about the tobacco industry and root causes of nicotine and substance use.”
West Grand Principal Elizabeth Bauer believes there is a lot of misinformation about tobacco use and e-cig use. Mrs. Bauer talked about the potential of the program. “It’s focus is to educate about the effects of nicotine and tobacco use while also building up young men and women to be advocates and leaders in our community.”

Mrs. Bauer ended the interview saying , “I believe the fundamental piece is supporting students to find their voice and giving them the information so they can become leaders and advocates in our community.”

Frank Reeves, Superintendent of Middle Park School District, stated “I think the program helps students understand that tobacco or any other vice that is harmful to all people, but even more harmful to adolescents as a societal issue.”

Mr. Reeves continued, “The goal of the program is to have a lasting effect on those participating, and they will want to continue to influence and shape policy in order to effectively reduce the amount of tobacco use by our teenagers.”

Khai Hughes, a student at West Grand, said, “I think it is a good way to get kids involved in their community, and it’s a good way to actually have a voice.”

There are 22 different schools around the state of Colorado embracing the program into schools. Staff at both Grand County high schools see potential from the program, and see it not only raising awareness of the dangers of nicotine products, but also helping students take a stand against their peers who do use nicotine products. Through the program, it is believed by staff that certain students can really thrive. They can voice what they think should be done about these products and begin learning both leadership and public speaking skills.
There are six different sessions and they each have their own titles. The first session is titled “Who am I?” In this session, students introduced themselves to each other and to Cantwell Session two was titled “Equality or Equity,” where students learned how to see other perspectives and had the opportunity to win a dollar by shooting a piece of paper into a trash can from different places in the room. Students all were given a vote to help them each get more of an equal opportunity to earn a dollar. The students continued to say they each wanted to move to a closer spot to be equal.

Throughout the next month, students will find out more and more about the program and what the next sessions are about. When all of the sessions are complete, students will have a new set of leadership skills, will be better at public speaking, and will proceed to a project/event which will be revealed in the middle of March.

There will be a student movement in April to try to fix any social injustices which appear the most visible to students. The students can use what they learned from each session to determine what needs to change.

Cantwell commented sponsors of the program are working together to make the program even more effective. When discussing the sponsors of UpRise, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Grand County Communities That Care, Grand Futures, and Colorado School of Public Health, Cantwell said, “This collaborative effort is bringing together the state agencies with the local partners in the communities to make a difference in prevention work, which has been found to be more impactful than all of us working silo.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here