Guest blogger, Vincent Irving is one of four 2014-2015 Legacy Youth Activism Fellows. Through the 18-month Fellowship, Legacy nurtures and develops young adult leaders committed to making their communities healthier through tobacco control.
As a 2014 Legacy Youth Activism Fellow, I had the great opportunity to attend Promising Practices 2014, a conference dedicated to promoting tobacco free active living and healthy eating in low socioeconomic status (SES) communities.
Presented by the Health Education Council and Break Free Alliance, the conference opened my eyes to a completely new world of tobacco control. During my time at the event I was motivated to meet individuals from around the world who are as engaged as I am in tobacco prevention. I had the pleasure of meeting people from diverse locations including Alaska, Oklahoma, Africa and England.
There were multiple, thought-provoking breakout sessions throughout the event. One session, presented by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and Tobacco Free Philadelphia, focused on tobacco point-of-sale advertisement. This session was extremely interesting to me because my Legacy fellowship project is focused on the same topic. Through the presentation I learned how to find uncommon ways to show tobacco retailers that they too have a role within the community.
During the conference I also had the opportunity to hear from members of DEFY, Louisiana’s youth tobacco prevention program. Their message provided an important element to the conference as they encouraged other youth programs to work as a family, stay committed to their tobacco prevention work, and never forget to have fun. The message of fun was extremely important to me because I try to integrate it into all of my anti- tobacco activities.
Although, I must say the highlight of my experience was listening to Rear Admiral (RADM) Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., who currently serves as the Acting United States Surgeon General. During his speech RADM Lushniak was full of positive energy as he discussed the importance of allowing youth to lead the charge in reducing tobacco usage rates.
I had an amazing experience at Promising Practices 2014, the event expertly demonstrated to me the importance of learning what is and is not working for others in the field. After attending the conference I feel that I have many new friends and colleagues throughout the nation that I can call upon for support.