Marion County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter Continues Their Mission... Virtually!
June 6, 2020

In the time of COVID-19, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) have not been able to meet face-to-face for most club meetings, activities and events, but many of the Marion County SWAT Clubs utilized several different online platforms to stay connected with each other and engaged in new, creative ways.

One of our most active SWAT Clubs, Meadowbrook SWAT/SADD, met several times throughout the past few months, and came up with their own version of a tobacco pledge in observance of World No Tobacco Day. Using the hashtag #SmokeFreeSummer, each club member wrote down their personal reason for staying tobacco free this summer and displayed their pledge cards on their screens. The club advisor was then able to take a “Brady Bunch” style screen shot of all the pledge cards and plans on printing a copy to display in the class room next fall. They also participated in a tobacco and vape themed jeopardy-style game achieving various prizes.

While all the clubs like to meet for fun activities, the advisors make sure that the youth are also learning important lessons. During one of the Meadowbrook SWAT Club meetings, the youth discussed the challenges and opportunities they were experiencing during the pandemic and heard many different perspectives on how the lockdown was affecting others in their community. They discussed how their own mental health was being affected and how negative feelings and emotions, even boredom, can lead to destructive decisions such as trying cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, alcohol or drug experimentation. Most importantly they learned new ways to practice selfcare in addition to the value of checking in with their friends and family and maintaining that social connection, a crucial part of our mental wellbeing.

Every year in the month of June, there is a statewide SWAT training. Historically, this is a face-to-face gathering that usually last the whole day and in recent years have included an overnight stay. These trainings serve not only to educate and inform the club youth on the dangers of tobacco and vape use and the marketing tactics used by the industry to entice them to sample their products, but it’s also about meeting other SWAT empowered youth; hopefully, making new and lifelong friends.

As much as the youth enjoy these trainings, the adults get a great deal of education and information as well.  This year the training was held virtually and they did not disappoint! The two-hour presentation was designed, developed and presented entirely by the SWAT Youth Advisory Board (YAB). Not only was the presentation full of great information, it was fun and engaging for all attendees. There were several ice breaker questions and a host of opportunities to participate through various poll questions. The SWAT YAB did a fantastic job and we appreciate their hard work!

This is also the time of year that we say goodbye to the graduating Seniors of SWAT. Many of them have been SWAT Club members throughout their middle and high-school years and have been an integral part to supporting and promoting their various clubs. The contributions they have made are what has kept their clubs going year after year, and undoubtedly, they got as much out of SWAT as they put into it. Marion County SWAT clubs look forward to recruiting new members to carry on their legacy and wish them well in their future endeavors.

If you would like more information on the Tobacco Prevention Program, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), or the QuitDoc Foundation, please contact the Marion County SWAT coordinator Tammy Slaughter at 352.209.9628 or TSlaughter@QuitDoc.com.