Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
September 14, 2000
TRENTON - More than 400 New Jersey teens are now being recruited to "kick ash" this fall by participating in the state's first "Kick-Ash Weekend" to begin forming a youth movement of anti-tobacco advocates.
Governor Christie Whitman and Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant have asked schools and organizations across the state to nominate highly motivated teens for the November 18 and 19 weekend at Legends Resort in McAfee. Recruitment materials were mailed earlier this month. Nominations for the chaperoned event must be returned to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services by September 25.
At the weekend summit, teens ages 14 to 17 will learn the skills in peer leadership, media relations and youth advocacy needed to be anti-tobacco leaders in their schools and communities. They'll also have fun. There will be "extreme games," such as a rock-climbing wall and inflatable obstacle course, a dance party, airbrush tattoos and prizes. Participants will also get to name New Jersey's anti-tobacco youth movement.
"Teens have the energy and creativity to turn the tables on the tobacco industry," said Governor Whitman. "This historic weekend is a great opportunity for young people who want to help bring about a generation united against tobacco."
The 1999 New Jersey Youth Tobacco Survey shows that nearly two in five high school students, and nearly one in five middle school students, have used tobacco products in the past month.
"We want to reduce these numbers to zero. The best way to do that is through a sustained attack on this public health problem," said Commissioner Grant. "The youth movement will be a year-round effort based in the community, with locally designed anti-tobacco activities."
Recruitment materials have been sent to more than 1,400 contacts in middle schools, high schools and vocational schools; boys and girls clubs; and other community organizations, including those in the Hispanic and African-American communities.
Those chosen for the summit will learn the most current information on tobacco issues and addiction, and develop their leadership and advocacy skills. They will be the founding members of the anti-tobacco youth movement. The statewide summit will be followed by a series of nine regional mini-summits to reinforce the momentum of the original gathering and bring new teens into the movement. The smaller summits will be held on college campuses in the winter, spring and summer of each year.
Participating teens will work throughout the year with a state-funded youth coordinator in each of the state's 21 counties. Coordinators will facilitate teens in their efforts to design and carry out community projects, such as painting anti-tobacco murals or surveying stores for pro-tobacco promotions and publicizing the results. Youth coordinators are based in the Communities Against Tobacco Coalitions in each county. CAT Coalitions are grassroots organizations that work the schools and community groups on smoking prevention and cessation.
The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is sponsoring the summit, and is co-producing the event with Scholastic Magazine and the Nixon Group of Tallahassee, Florida.
New Jersey is funding the statewide youth summit with money from the Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry that has been dedicated to significantly reducing youth tobacco use. New Jersey has also received a $2.2 million, three-year grant from the American Legacy Foundation to fund the regional summits and anti-tobacco youth movement activities. The foundation is the national, independent, public health foundation established under the Master Settlement Agreement.