SWAT a drug prevention program in FLORIDA

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Drug abuse has become a very serious issue among teenagers in America today.  The National Drug Intelligence Center (2004) reports more than 7.5 million young people ranging from 12-17 years of age have experimented with drugs at least once.  Whether it is for an escape from reality or a social high, the individual quickly gets hooked and an addiction to the drug is formed.  Our young people are vulnerable and it is for this reason that our policing agencies are investing their time and officers educating students on drug prevention and how to respond to peer pressure.  One of the most addicting drugs that teens have access to is tobacco.  This paper will focus on SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco), a program that was designed by students to help students work against tobacco and the fallacies of the tobacco industry.

Florida is fighting back against tobacco companies by empowering students with the knowledge and truth behind the lies and manipulation that is sold by Big Tobacco.  Since the 1997 Florida state victory costing the tobacco industry billions of dollars in medical costs from Medicaid patients and the revamping of ads that promoted underage smoking; the state has been on a mission to reduce teen smoking and tobacco use. Not only have government officials felt moved to make a change, but young people are also taking a stand. In 1998, just 8 months after Florida called victory in the lawsuit against tobacco companies, nearly 600 students united together to form a group called SWAT. This group was to be run by students for students with the mission “to educate, unite, and empower the diverse segments of youth in Florida to revolt against the manipulation and targeting by Big Tobacco, specifically of youth, through the use of the truth message. “(Florida Swat, 2015)  Students helping students through education, media, marketing, involvement, enforcement, evaluation, and delivering truth is how SWAT is arming our young people.  The sole purpose of this drug prevention group is to get teens involved in making a real change in their home state.  Students have the ability to become advocates and work with law makers in Florida after receiving the real life training and attending workshops.  SWAT is more than just hanging out in a classroom talking about the latest cigarette commercial or chewing tobacco display at the grocery store.  Students that join this drug prevention group are referred to as SWAT members.  The SWAT members are dedicated to living a tobacco free life and revealing the secrets behind advertising efforts to hook teens into an early tobacco addiction.  The SWAT team also promotes the deadly facts about smoking.  Working on a local level and statewide this team of young people is determined to make a difference for generations to come. teens

SWAT’s main focus is on marketing and manipulation of the tobacco industry, it does not deal with the dangers or harmful effects this addicting drug plays on our youth.  (Florida SWAT, 2015)  Students are encouraged to join this group regardless of their culture and personal background.   SWAT has become a staple program for students that have fallen victim to the lies of advertising and have formed the bad habit of smoking.  Young people are rising above the lies and creating advocacy to help deliver SWAT’s main message, “Their brand is lies.  Our brand is truth.” (SWAT, 2014)  By using positive peer pressure and getting teens involved to make a real change in their community the success stories are tripling.  Ten other states have followed Florida’s fight against tobacco companies by joining the revolution and initiating programs that empower students to fight back against Big Tobacco.  Teens across the country are showing their worth and taking a stand every year on March 16th, our National Kick Butts Day.   This day is set aside to help students find value in themselves while delivering a message that they are not a replacement.

Through the education of Florida SWAT, 32 city ordinances and 27 county ordinances have been adopted that place tobacco products behind the retail counter and out of the reach of kids.  This is a success that students fought hard for in the Bay area after a tobacco company filed lawsuit against the movement.  Since 1998 thousands of students and many national organizations, such as Florida Health and The World Health Organization have joined Florida SWAT in creating publications and guides for international distribution.   Spreading the truth throughout the country is what drives these young people.  With successes to limiting second hand smoke and the passing of Amendment 6 to limit smoking in public places it would seem that SWAT is on the right path to promote a tobacco free life.  Working hand in hand with lawmakers SWAT members have become an essential part of the political process, educating decision makers on the necessity of tobacco prevention and dollars saved. The Florida SWAT group (2014) reports a 57% decline in the number of middle school students that smoke and a 37% decline in high school students.  There has also been a great decrease in the number of daily smokers, as many as 63% of middle school students have cut back on the number of cigarettes smoked in a single day.  Not only has there been a decrease in teen smoking, but this program celebrates with a success in the number of students that have committed to never smoke.   56% of middle school and 43% of high school youth have made the commitment to never smoke, even if a best friend offers them a joint.  This is an increase of 73% since the birth of the program in 1998.  This small victory against the effects of advertising by Big Tobacco is a huge success and will lead to more funding and education in schools across America.

Most of the funding for this group comes from internal fundraising by the students.  There are no grants set aside and no major sponsorship.  SWAT faces budget cuts that threaten students from participating in statewide tours that allow them to spread the awareness and truth on tobacco companies.  With great effort students and staff members continue to pull together managing to find ways to raise the much needed funds and to get the word out, reaching thousands of youth from every county in the state of Florida.

Teens are uniting across the state and throughout America with great force to take down tobacco companies.  They are focusing on eliminating promotional efforts that target teens.  By meeting goals to promote public policies to reduce tobacco use, expose the efforts of the tobacco industry that mislead children, and strengthen control efforts by providing support to teens SWAT will continue to be successful in making tobacco free schools and social behaviors of students.  The war against tobacco will be won as our future generation is empowered with the truth to fight back.  Exposing the lies and manipulation of Big Tobacco drives these students.  Truth is knowledge and knowledge is power, may this be a warning to the tobacco industry.

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References:

SWAT. (2014, November 18). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://swatflorida.com/

Students Working Against Tobacco. (2015, April 15). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.gen-swat.com/

Teens and Drugs Fast Facts. (2004, November 1). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs11/12430/

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Positiviti is infectious!

Today’s post is written by my sweet guest, Juliet.  She is a one of the team members and a co creator of Positiviti. Positivi is a a positive community created for students by students that have experienced some sort of bullying on school campus or at home.  Continue to read more about Positiviti and how you can get involved!

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Positiviti, the site created for students struggling in situations at school and home, has officially been launched! Our site is an open space for students in upper elementary through high school grade levels, allowing them a place to go when their options in tough situations feel limited. On the site, students can access a ‘PositivFeed’ with quotes and messages of encouragement that have been left by the Positiviti Team and fellow students. Positiviti also has a site Mailbox page, where students can send in a message to Positiviti describing their situation at our Helpbox. Not only is the Helpbox a place where students can speak out about their situation, but Positiviti will respond with a personalized message of uplift for the student about what they’re going through. Our Mailbox page also includes a Dropbox, where students can submit positive messages for us to post onto the site.

As three students who have experienced the effects of bullying, we created this site because we know how it feels not knowing what to do about your situation. We are hoping to reach anyone who simply needs a space to receive encouragement, because feeling alone is the hardest part of dealing with what you face. Positiviti’s goal is to simply be a friend accessible to any student going through any issue. The hardest thing about dealing with situations at school and home is the feeling that you can’t say anything about what you’re going through. Positiviti’s goal is to be a webspace where students feel free to message us and get a chance to express themselves, while also receiving encouragement to keep going.

Positiviti is looking to spread the word of our site for students who need encouragement, but we are also looking for students who are willing to step up and become a part of our message of hope. Students can join us by accessing our site, where they can then click to our ‘Positiviti Team’ page. By joining the Positiviti Team, students volunteer to speak with people from their school about what they’re going through if they need to talk to someone face-to-face. To join our team, all students have to do is fill out a quick form on our Positiviti Team page so we can add them to our Team List. Members of our team are also asked to spread around the message of our site, as we want this to become as widespread as possible. We call our movement the Positiviti Virus, and we want to infect as many students as we can.

Please be sure to share these links and visit these pages listed below to help us spread the word of Positiviti!

You can visit our site at: www.positiviti.weebly.com
Please like us on Facebook and share our page at: www.facebook.com/positiviti
Instagram: SimpliPositiviti
Email: positivitimail@gmail.com

-Positiviti

Helping Kids and Families Succeed with back to school supplies and I need your help!

imageHard to think about school when summer has just begun. As a single mother
of two children I know first hand how hard it is to make ends meet. I have
been very blessed with a wonderful job and support system and have always
been able to provide for my children with more than they truly need. God is
so good! I know this is not the story for all single mothers. I would like
to do a school supply drive for single mothers that are in need of help for
the next school year. I will be taking applications for mother’s in need in
a few short weeks. I would like to start with seeing how many vendors and
fans are willing to stand with me and donate either school supplies or gift
cards for store’s like Target, Walmart, Staples, and Office Depot or Office
Max. Please message me if you are able to donate. You will receive free
advertising this summer from me and acknowledgment on my blog in return for
your patronage. I would like to help as many families as I can in the new
school year. Please share on your personal and business pages to spread the
word. Thank you!