News and Events

Levy County Students Working Against Tobacco Members Attend Regional Leadership Retreat
November 9, 2014

The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida has created four regions in Florida for Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) County Chapters and each of these regions work together to achieve Florida’s tobacco prevention goals. Each region has three SWAT members who are elected to serve on a statewide Youth Advocacy Board (YAB) and one student is elected as an alternate for each region.

In November, Region 1 hosted a weekend SWAT Leadership Retreat in Panama City Beach. There were approximately 160 youth and more than 40 adults in attendance, representing each of the 18 counties in Region 1. The youth and adults who organized the event extended an invitation to the Region 2 SWAT YAB members to attend and serve as Regional Ambassadors for the weekend. Two YAB members and the YAB alternate attended from Region 2, representing Levy County and Putnam County.

SWAT Summit
Pictured from L to R: Lydia Delcambre (Santa Rosa County), Julia Osagie (Leon County), Jalissa Bellamy (Washington County), Abriyah Campbell (Putnam County), Kayla Spengemann (Putnam County), and Jordan Marlett (Levy County)

Levy County’s Jordan Marlett was one of the three Region 2 YAB members who attended.  “I am so grateful to Region 1 for welcoming us to join them on their retreat,” says Jordan, adding “I learned a lot and had so much fun.”

Speaking of learning and fun, the weekend was full of activities that engaged both large and small groups of youth in leadership and learning in a fun atmosphere. The theme for the retreat was “Tobacco Through the Decades” and the youth in attendance were broken up into sub-groups according to pre-assigned decades spanning from the 1950’s to the 2000’s. Each decade group created a presentation about the major tobacco events that took place during their assigned time period and then worked together to create their decade’s portion of a tobacco control timeline.

For the presentations, the students dressed in clothing representing their decade, played decade-appropriate music, and overall had a lot of fun with the activity. The information that each of the decade groups presented was also developed into a visual timeline in the form of a mural painted on a long art canvas. This art canvas can be shared at other Regional SWAT Retreats throughout Florida as a visual representation of tobacco control history.

The Decade of the 1960s
Pictured from L to R: Abriyah Campbell (Putnam County), Jordan Marlett (Levy County),
and Kayla Spengemann (Putnam County)

The tobacco history really resonated with the students. “I really enjoyed the retreat,” says Abriyah Campbell, another Region 2 YAB member who attended from Putnam County. “It was fun and educational and I gained more knowledge about the history of tobacco.”

After the tobacco timeline activity, the students participated in four rotating small group sessions with youth who presented topics including Public Speaking and Media Advocacy, Planning Projects for Observances, Developing the Qualities of a Leader, and Policies and Policymakers. These sessions were short and provided opportunities for youth engagement and hands-on activities.

Other notable activities from the weekend were the small group breakouts, which included three rotating sessions. One of the sessions involved an opportunity for students to contribute to the tobacco timeline canvas by painting and/or they could participate in a letter-writing campaign based on the new Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids’ #ShopTobaccoFree website. Students wrote letters congratulating retailers who are tobacco free and they also encouraged other retailers to go tobacco free as well.

Tobacco Timeline

The second rotating session was a tobacco panel discussion and Q & A, where the Levy County Tobacco Prevention Specialist (TPS), Kristina Zachry, was asked to participate as a Tobacco Control Expert panelist alongside representatives from the local Area Health Education Center, the American Lung Association, and the Putnam County TPS.

“The experience of interacting with the Region 1 SWAT members as a panelist was so much fun,” says Ms. Zachry. “I really enjoyed answering their thoughtful questions and contributing my knowledge to their understanding of the tobacco control issue.”

Finally, the students participated in a session that included a media campaign presentation by the YAB, which looked at the history of the Truth campaign and introduced the new Tobacco Free Florida youth media campaign, The Facts Now. This session also solicited SWAT members’ input on the new campaign.

In addition to a fun and interactive tobacco-related scavenger hunt and a preview of a Tobacco 2.0 video project that some counties in Region 1 are creating, some SWAT members also participated in a Talent Show to showcase various aptitudes and to have some fun. The three Region 2 YAB members who attended the retreat as Regional Ambassadors participated in the Talent Show by choreographing and performing a short dance to a popular song with a fun SWAT twist. They won an award for the Talent Show and they were asked to perform an encore.

On the last day of the retreat, the SWAT members broke out into small groups with their counties and the YAB members from Regions 1 and 2 met together to brainstorm ideas to take back to the YAB. The students reflected on the weekend and decided that they would like to see other regions host SWAT retreats as well.

 “The retreat was full of excitement, energy, and life,” says Kayla Spengemann, a Region 2 YAB Alternate from Putnam County who also attended. She adds, “It was so great to meet other people from different counties and get to work with our Region 1 YAB and get some insight on how their region does things. I can’t wait to bring these great ideas to Region 2.”

Each of the girls from Region 2 who attended had a phenomenal time at the retreat and they left energized and ready to get to work on creating a similar event for Region 2. They plan to invite Region 3 YAB members to the Region 2 Retreat, in the hopes that the event can eventually be replicated in each region.

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