Watertown Youth Lead Movement To Fight Big Tobacco

Shariel Joseph and Marcus Moore of the Watertown Youth Coalition, sponsored by the Wayside Multi-Service Center, were recently accepted as members of The 84 Movement’s Statewide Leadership Team. To begin in that role, they attended The 84 Movement’s Statewide Leadership Conference in Boston from December 1-3 with other youth leaders from across the Commonwealth. The 84 Movement is a statewide youth tobacco prevention program that fights the tobacco industry’s tactics of making their products sweet, cheap, and easy to get.

Joseph and Moore, both juniors at Watertown High School, join fifteen other youth to help lead the movement. As members of the Statewide Leadership Team, they will have the opportunity to attend and facilitate workshops, gain skills in public speaking, educate members of their community, and fortify their leadership skills.

In applying to be on the Statewide Leadership Team, Moore said, “I am passionate about tobacco prevention in my community because I see my peers using tobacco products at such a young age and they don’t know how harmful it is to them.”

At the weekend conference in Boston, youth participated in leadership and civic engagement training sessions, along with team-building exercises and fun activities. The weekend began with workshops about Big Tobacco’s tactics that target youth and The 84 Movement’s priorities to help the young people prepare to be leaders and spokespeople for the organization.

The second day of the conference included media Interview training, where they learned why media interviewing is important and how journalists work, as well as an introduction to health equity issues and how they can use this lens in the work they do with tobacco.

The weekend was not all work, as the youth had a two-night stay at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, attended several restaurants in the city, and even saw Elf the Musical at the Boch Center. Both students left the conference feeling more confident in The 84 messaging, how to answer tough interview questions, and their leadership skills overall. Joseph hopes that by being part of the Leadership Team, she can “prove that someone like me can make a difference and show that it’s okay to take a stand against tobacco use among teens.”

The 84 Movement has chapters throughout the state that are educating their peers and change makers about Big Tobacco’s tactics, as well as working on passing local policy to reduce the toll of tobacco in their communities. Members of the Statewide Leadership Team, like Joseph and Moore, play an important role in planning statewide events and training members of The 84 on how to be effective advocates in their communities.

The 84 is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, developed and managed in partnership with Health Resources in Action. For more information on the work being done to combat Big Tobacco around the state, visit www.makesmokinghistory.org and www.The84.org.

The Watertown Youth Coalition (WYC), a program of Wayside Multi-Service Center, is a coalition supporting the wellness and empowerment of Watertown youth by engaging young people, families, and community. For more information about the WYC Peer Leadership Program, contact Dawn Graham, WYC Peer Leader Advisor, at dawn_graham@waysideyouth.org or 617-284-2642.