Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc.

Tobacco Prevention – Youth Encouraging Alaskans’ Health

Youth Encouraging Alaskans’ Health (YEAH) Teen Ambassadors

 

Teen advocates from across Alaska sharing their love for a tobacco-free Alaska! (Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance Summit April 2017)

In an effort to have a tobacco-free Alaska, RurAL CAP staff support a statewide youth advocacy coalition called the Youth Encouraging Alaskans’ Health (YEAH) Teen Ambassadors. This group of youth leaders from across the state meet regularly using teleconferences, emails and social media to develop their work around tobacco prevention and advocacy at the local and statewide levels.  Research has shown that engaging young people in tobacco control issues is a strategy in changing social norms and preventing the initiation of tobacco use. The YEAH Teen Ambassadors strive to educate the community on the impacts of tobacco, and support tobacco free areas. They empower their peers to make a difference in their communities. The coalition plans and then participates in two in-person trainings during the school year in addition to other opportunities for youth engagement such as the Elders and Youth Conference and the Alaska Association of Student Government (AASG) Conference. We empower youth to make a difference in their communities. Our coalition connects everyone toward the same cause: to make Alaska tobacco free.

 

Why are Teen Ambassadors needed?

Teen advocates tired but happy after a day of cleaning up the community of tobacco litter and advocating Alaskans for a tobacco-free Alaska. (Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance Summit, April 2017)

2016-2017 Teen Ambassadors (L-R) Menzo Bell, Jivan Gordon- Wolfe, Leena Robinson, Sunny Hemen, Avu Brown and Zac Stockton relaxing after their panel discussion at the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance Summit (April 2016)


Ninety percent of all adult smokers begin this deadly addiction as teenagers or earlier. Each day in the United States, over 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and over 1,000 of those young people become daily cigarette smokers. In Alaska, while seeing a substantial decrease from 1995, where 1 in 3 students started smoking under 13, in 2013, 1 in 10 students still begin smoking under the age of 13. A vast majority of those who begin smoking during adolescence are addicted to nicotine by young adulthood. The tobacco industry uses this information to their advantage and consistently provide deceptive messaging that disillusions and persuades youth to pick up a tobacco product. As result, youth are critical and powerful voices in the fight against tobacco. They can encourage their peers, create messaging that counteracts tobacco’s misleading messages and have the voice to urge local, state and national leaders to protect Alaska’s youth from ever becoming a statistic.

 

The Teen Ambassador program offers middle and high school aged students the opportunity to become involved in tobacco prevention at the state and local level. Teen Ambassadors work with supportive adults from state and local agencies to provide tobacco education and advocacy in their communities and statewide.

 

Become a Teen Ambassador!

Interested in traveling, making new friends and want to make a difference in your community? Apply to become a Teen Ambassador! Teen Ambassadors serve for a year-long term and assist in the planning the statewide YEAH Conference held every summer. Teen Ambassadors also work within their own communities to engage and educate their peers in the importance of a tobacco free Alaska. Grow your leadership, planning and critical thinking skills while learning more about tobacco prevention and how to create a tobacco free-Alaska and beyond.

Apply today by completing the YEAH New TA Complete Packet!

Eligibility: Must be an Alaskan resident ages 14-18 years old attending middle or high school. Must be able to commit to a year of service and willing to actively participate in a community engagement activity.

 

Support a Teen Ambassador!

Teen Ambassadors take leadership and knowledge back home to encourage peers and others to tackle tobacco in their communities. A supportive adult in their community can mean all the difference in this sometimes difficult work.

If you are interested in getting youth involved and supporting your youth’s tobacco prevention efforts, talk with your local or regional Tobacco Prevention and Control (TPC) grantee for more information how to get involved locally. Each region across the state has different programs available for youth. Groups exist from the Kodiak Alaska’s Revolution Against Tobacco (K.A.R.A.T) program and Peninsula Teens Against Tobacco Use (T.A.T.U), to Nenena’s People In Need of Knowledge (P.I.N.K.). These local coalitions provide opportunities to build the foundation for tobacco prevention work. Youth do not have to be actively involved in a local tobacco prevention group or coalition to apply to be a Teen Ambassador.

Kaisa Kotch and Savannah Eberhard advocating in Town Square for smoke-free air in Alaska. (Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance Summit, April 2017)

Cole Agimuk spreads information about the harms of tobacco in Town Square (Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance Summit, April 2017)