News and Events

SWAT Youth from Levy County Attend Advocacy Board Meeting and Team-Building Challenge
March 16, 2014

Levy Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) member, Emily Manis, is a freshman at Williston High School, and a member of the statewide SWAT Youth Advocacy Board (YAB). The YAB is made up of three SWAT members from each of four regions in Florida, for a total of twelve statewide leaders. The YAB members are elected annually by their peers to represent them on the statewide board. This youth board meets via conference call weekly, as regions monthly, and together as an entire board once a year.

On March 14-16, The Youth Advocacy Board just held their annual face-to-face meeting, where the members came together for a weekend of teambuilding and planning for the future of SWAT. The YAB members and the alternate members for each region spent the weekend in workshops, where they worked on updating SWAT items such as the statewide SWAT bylaws and the SWAT member handbooks.

YAB Meeting

In addition to working on bylaws and handbooks, the YAB members had an opportunity to meet the statewide media vender, Alma DDB, who is responsible for creating the Tobacco Free Florida advertising campaigns and the youth media messages. The students worked with the members of Alma to give their opinion on the youth prevention media campaign, and they tasked Alma with creating some updated SWAT club materials.

One of the highlights of the meeting was participating in a teambuilding activity, where the students were challenged on a ropes course. They spent some time on low ropes teambuilding close to the ground, where they worked on solving problems together or completing a task by communicating and working closely with each other. Then, individually, they put safety gear on, and conquered the high ropes challenge, which involved scaling a telephone pole, and walking across a tightrope to the other side, where they were then lowered to the ground by their peers. The students were very nervous at first, but nerves quickly turned into smiles as they each challenged themselves and succeeded. YAB Teambuilding

Overall, the weekend was a huge success, and the SWAT members got a lot accomplished. Levy County Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Kristina Zachry, chaperoned Emily for the weekend and she was amazed at the progress the group made. “It’s always fun to watch the SWAT members work together to build their prevention program,” Kristina says, “it’s even more fun to see them show up as strangers and leave as best friends.”

Indeed, the SWAT Youth Advocacy Board members are all now more than just a voice on a conference call with each other; they’re youth from around the state who are united in fighting Big Tobacco and succeeding together.

For more information the SWAT program in Levy County, contact Kristina Zachry at