News and Events

Levy Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Celebrates Ten Years of Advocacy
May 18, 2016

Members of the Levy County chapter of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) attended the 10th annual Levy SWAT Advocacy Summit on May 18th at Camp Kulaqua in High Springs, FL. There were a total of 95 youth in attendance at the event for an entire day of learning and teambuilding. This summit marks ten years of SWAT advocacy in Levy County and the SWAT chapter has accomplished numerous policy changes and developed many public speakers and advocates during this time, consistently maintaining an annual county chapter membership of 150-200 members.

The Levy County SWAT Representative and recent addition to the Statewide SWAT Youth Advocacy Board, Dakota Phillips, helped plan and facilitate the summit this year along with the Community Health Advocate for Levy County, Kristina Zachry. Dakota welcomed her peers to the summit and helped facilitate the presentations and agenda items, setting a great example of leadership!

The agenda for the day included presentations from each of the five school SWAT teams that were in attendance. SWAT members shared examples of activities that they conducted at their respective schools during the year to promote SWAT and to spread the tobacco prevention message about industry manipulation and targeting of teens.

SWAT leaders and school advisors were also recognized at the summit with certificates of achievement and small tokens of appreciation for their efforts. Graduating SWAT seniors who have been members of SWAT for two or more years were given lime green cords to wear at graduation as well as the book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens.”

“I was very excited to recognize some of our outstanding SWAT leaders this year at the summit,” said Ms. Zachry. “We have accomplished some wonderful things as a team during the past ten years and it is because of the dedication and leadership of our youth and the support of our school advisors.”

Chiefland SWAT member Samantha Nerau recently moved to Chiefland and joined SWAT. This was her first and last time attending a SWAT summit, as she is a graduating senior. This year she quickly stepped up as a SWAT leader along with her sister, Kelli. “I’m sad that I only got to go to a summit once,” says Samantha. “All of the info was enlightening and shocking, but I still had a great time.”

“We had a great day of learning and fun,” says Chiefland’s SWAT Advisor, Mary Phillips. She continued, “Most of Levy’s SWAT kids were in attendance, getting to meet and interact with their SWAT buddies from the other schools. It was great to hear our new Levy County SWAT representative leading some of the summit. We are in great hands!”

Overall, the day went very well, and the students and adults in attendance left not only more prepared to fight the tobacco industry, but they also bonded together as a team and left energized and full of ideas for future SWAT activities.