3/27/13-The Missouri Show-Me PALS (People Advocating Living Smoke-free) Youth Advisory Board members were recognized as outstanding state youth advocates for leading their peers to better health through educational outreach and policy change. Show-Me PALS board members Alex Higginbotham (Odessa RVIII school), Daniel Giuffra (Mary Institute Country Day School), and Rebecca Bade (New Bloomfield RIII) were the proud recipients of the ACT Missouri – Missouri Youth/Adult Advocacy Alliance’s 2013 Outstanding Youth Awards during the Speak Hard conference in the State Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City on March 27. Awards were presented by ACT Missouri Youth/Adult Advocacy Alliance (MYAA) staff, as well as the youth’s legislators that were invited to attend the event. Show-Me PALS works with youth statewide and is supported by the University of Missouri.
Each year, MYAA honors outstanding youth who work for healthier communities through substance abuse prevention. All three Show-Me PALS students have been instrumental in tobacco advocacy efforts across Missouri. Their accomplishments include attending and presenting at national and statewide conferences, leading Missouri youth in advocating for a ballot initiative for a statewide tobacco tax increase, planning and executing an awareness day at the state Capitol with more than 100 attendees, and organizing other countless events to empower Missouri youth to stand up to tobacco. While they have achieved much together as a board, each student was also recognized for his or her own strengths, as well.
Alex Higginbotham was honored for his development of a newly-formed Students with a Goal (SWAG) group in his community of Odessa and for his work with the media and public speaking.
Daniel Giuffra was honored for helping minorities understand the complex issues surrounding tobacco addiction. His hands-on work included translating forms, fact sheets, and other materials from English to Spanish for the Latino population served by Casa de Salud in St. Louis.
Rebecca Bade was honored for leading the New Bloomfield RIII Smokebusters group in community events, including a Kick Butts 5K, a dodge ball tournament, fundraising, and more.
“These students have given a 150 percent all year long,” said Joyce Lara, Tobacco Free Missouri Youth Coordinator. “Anytime someone asks them to do something they take on the task with no questions asked. They have truly shown that the youth of today are very passionate and dedicated to helping make Missouri a healthier state to live.”
MYAA started the Speak Hard event in 2005 to unite Missouri teen voices for a day-long event of workshops, awareness raising, and outreach with local legislators on issues related to substance abuse prevention, including tobacco use. While tobacco use in Missouri is decreasing, it remains a problem. The 2009 Missouri Youth and Tobacco Survey found over half of all high school students, and 1 in 4 middle school students, had used some form of tobacco.
ABOUT TOBACCO FREE MISSOURI: Tobacco Free Missouri is the statewide tobacco control coalition consisting of concerned citizens and organizations. Since 2007, Tobacco Free Missouri has worked with its partners to reduce tobacco use and eliminate secondhand smoke exposure for all Missourians through education and policy change. For more information, please visit www.tobaccofreemo.org.
ABOUT Show-Me PALS: The mission of Show-Me PALS (People Advocating Living Smoke-free) is to promote healthy lifestyles by advocating for a tobacco free Missouri, educating youth about the risks of tobacco use, and empowering future generations to be tobacco-free. Show Me-PALS Facebook Group