News and Events

Levy SWAT Members Attend 8th Annual SWAT Advocacy Summit
May 13, 2014

Members of the Levy County chapter of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) attended the 8th annual Levy SWAT Advocacy Summit on May 13th at Camp Kulaqua in High Springs, FL. There were a total of 116 youth in attendance at the event for an entire day of learning and teambuilding. SWAT teams from neighboring Marion and Putnam Counties also attended the summit to show their support and participate.

SWAT Summit Attendees

Levy County SWAT Representative and Statewide SWAT Youth Advocacy Board member, Emily Manis, helped plan and facilitate the summit this year along with the Levy County Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Kristina Zachry, and input from her SWAT peers.

“We have a lot of younger members this year that are in 4th and 5th grade, which is the youngest age our program has ever reached,” said Ms. Zachry. “We had to go back to the basics and cover the tobacco issue in depth to give the newer members a strong foundation. We also wanted to incorporate some fun and active teambuilding activities to keep everyone’s attention and help us work better together. We asked some of our older returning SWAT members to help facilitate teambuilding for the large group, and they were eager to show their leadership and help out.”

This is the first summit that Emily has attended as well as the largest audience that she has helped facilitate and deliver a presentation to. “It was nerve wracking at first,” said Emily, “but once I got about halfway through the presentation the nervousness faded away. The summit was a lot of fun and I am so glad I got the opportunity to speak and help plan it.”

SWAT Summit Presentation

Emily spent several hours working with Ms. Zachry to prepare the agenda and presentations for her fellow SWAT peers. She also helped decorate the training room along with some helpful Quit Doc staff members who were in attendance to lend a hand and show their support.

The agenda included a detailed Tobacco 101 presentation, with information on the health effects of tobacco, the death toll from tobacco, and the tobacco industry’s role in promoting and advertising their products to their target teenage audiences.

The SWAT members in attendance also learned about the history of SWAT and the structure and purpose of the organization through a SWAT 101 presentation. They were given examples of activities that they can implement at their respective schools to promote SWAT and to spread the tobacco prevention message about industry manipulation and targeting of teens.

SWAT Summit

Finally, everyone had a delicious barbeque lunch followed by some swimming in Hornsby Springs. 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.

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