Reality Check Youth Advocate of the Year
I first heard about Reality Check at a local skate night that I went to with my friends. I wasn’t too sure what it was at first, but my friends were involved and convinced me to join. After being part of the group and realizing the impact it had on the community, I became extremely dedicated to Reality Check’s mission.
Reality Check aims to reduce tobacco use, pollution and presence in the lives of kids and teenagers. The group will often go to parks to pick up cigarette butts or flag tobacco products to raise visual awareness of just how much tobacco is present in our everyday lives.
When I was growing up, both my father and stepmom smoked, and I remember asking my dad to take me to a specific park in town that had banned smoking. At the time, I was too young to realize the impact of smoking. I just wanted him to take me there so we could spend more time together, but now, since joining Reality Check, I am more educated and actively encourage him to stop smoking because of the health risks it imposes on him and those around him.
I feel it is important for kids to grow up in a tobacco-free environment. They shouldn’t have to be exposed to that type of product when they are out playing in a safe environment like a park. I’ve attended events like the Great American Smokeout, Earth Day Clean Up, Legislative Day, Youth Summit, Kick Butts Day and much more to help spread this message.
I was named Youth Advocate of the Year at Legislative Day and was able to speak about the work that Reality Check is doing and discuss what changes have been made in Olean, New York. I was chosen out of 23 other applicants. I was extremely excited, nervous and proud to be recognized for my efforts. I never thought I would be in this position, but Reality Check has helped me grow so much.
If I could give one piece of advice to a fellow student, it would be to recognize the impact you have on others. Whether we realize it or not, we impact the lives of others on a daily basis. We have the power to leave a lasting impression. Why not try to leave a positive one?