Marion County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members Attend Regional Training
By Abbie Slaughter
November 03, 2018

SWAT, or Students Working Against Tobacco, is an organization that consists of youth preventing the use of tobacco in teens. For twenty years this group has had an annual summit to educate SWAT youth from around Florida on the latest tobacco education information. SWAT members then take this information and pass it on to the community, so they can understand the severe consequences of using tobacco in order to prevent youth use. This year’s summit consisted of topics such as Photovoice, SWAT’S twentieth anniversary, advocacy vs. activism, and the new Not A Lab Rat campaign. The presentations were given by the SWAT youth advisory board.

The Summit was held at the Montgomery Presbyterian Center in Stark, Florida. When first arriving, there was a check-in table at the front room of the building, where you received nametags. Teens were placed in the front of the room and adults were placed in the back, the teen’s tables had folders with agendas, notepads, and papers needed for the various activities. Introductions and Icebreakers came next, adults had to guess concepts on the board from the 2000’s, and teens guessed concepts from the 1900’s; this icebreaker was very entertaining for all.

The first presentation was Photovoice, by Neyah Carter, which explained Photovoice. This platform expresses issues, strengths, and weaknesses in the community through pictures. Photovoice allows people to gain knowledge, advocate, and educate others and themselves. The second presentation, Advocacy vs. Activism by Emma Ronchetti, explained the difference between Advocacy, the act of supporting a cause, and Activism, direct action of something, and when to use them in different situations. There was a short break afterwards, to let the adults set up for lunch, and the teens were given the chance to play outside in the basketball pavilion. After the delicious lunch, there was a SWAT’s 20th Anniversary presentation by Ryan Helmes, which told attendees about every important event that has happened in SWAT history, leading to what SWAT has become now.

There was a Public Speaking Activity, where everyone split into groups based on the color of the card that the nametag was on. Every group was given a paper that had a name of a band from the 90’s, and there were also many facts on the paper. The group had to create a presentation about why this band is the best and present it in front of all attendees. The last presentation was the Not a Lab Rat presentation, by Jamir Brown, this campaign is about letting tobacco companies know that they can’t use or test people, especially youth, just so they can make money.

After all the presentations, and fun activities, there was evaluations and closings which included taking pictures and saying goodbyes. My friend, Alayne Monroe had gained so much at the seminar, saying, “it was a fun and educational time,” she learned several facts about the bad motives and dangerous things about tobacco and other need to now information. My favorite presentation was the Photovoice presentation, I think it is a great and very creative way to spread ideas. This was an amazing SWAT summit, it was very beneficial for young people to have the chance to learn about the facts and negative consequences of tobacco and electronic cigarettes. The SWAT message is useful and amazing for teens to hear, see, and know.

If you would like more information on the QuitDoc Foundation, the Tobacco Prevention Program, or Students Working Against Tobacco please contact Tobacco Prevention Specialist
Lauren Fischer at 352.598.8241 or