June 10, 2019
The 2019 SWAT Statewide Meeting was held in Fruitland Park, FL from June 7-9. While this was not my first SWAT retreat, it was a first for the three youth who attended. Upon check-in, all were pleasantly surprised to learn that the breakout sessions could be selected as attendees desired. There were several to choose from including Youth Advocacy, SWAT-vocate, Public speaking, Social Media Marketing, and News Media Advocacy. Selections were made all moved on to the main room where we were entertained with a game of tobacco bingo while waiting for more youth to arrive.
Opening ceremonies commenced promptly at 4pm and our jammed packed, fun-filled weekend was in full swing! Attendees heard from Laura Corbin, Bureau Chief for Tobacco Free Florida, Sachit Gali, President of the Youth Advisory Board, and LaDarius Gammage, Statewide Youth Advocacy Coordinator. They explained the purpose of the meeting and gave a brief overview of NEXXT as, this will be the next generation to stand up to Big Tobacco. The entirety of the retreat was focused on this central theme. Since the regions are divided by location in the state, introductions continued with the other Region 2 SWAT members, and then attendees were broken up into random groups to play games and participate in some of the planned activities.
The first activity started with basic tobacco industry information and statistics, which was an extremely helpful refresher course and a great way to kick off the event. The following session was facilitated by Tricia Dahl, from Yale School of Medicine, and she detailed the information on e-cigarettes and the dangers of vaping. Ms. Dahl’s entire field of study is focused on tobacco and youth; she had extensive knowledge to share and the youth really enjoyed hearing from a verified expert in the field. Read More