Everyday it's estimated one thousand kids become regular smokers.
But Lydia Pickrell is trying to break the habit.
The Blacksburg High School junior was recognized at a gala in Washington DC Wednesday night for her influence.
As part of a group called Y street Pickrell volunteers her time to educate her peers on the dangers of tobacco.
Here is the full press release:
Virginia’s Y Street Teen Volunteers Win National Youth Award
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids names Va. teens Youth Advocates of the Year
Y Street, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s (VFHY) teen volunteer action group, has been named the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ Youth Advocates of the Year for their leadership in the fight against youth tobacco use. Members of Y Street will accept the award at a gala banquet in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, May 18.
Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel and VFHY Executive Director Marty Kilgore will be among the more than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders attending the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ 15th annual gala recognizing youth leaders from across the nation.
“Y Street continues to lead the nation in youth empowerment efforts,” says VFHY Director of Marketing Danny Saggese. “They prove that young people can be extremely powerful advocates in fighting for healthy communities across Virginia.”
“Members of Y Street … are making great strides against youth tobacco addiction and their voices are being heard,” says Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Every day, 1,000 kids in the United States become regular smokers and one-third of them will die prematurely from tobacco-related disease. Nearly 90 percent of all adult smokers begin while in their teens or earlier, and two-thirds become regular, daily smokers before they reach the age of 19.”
The Y Street members accepting the award will be: Unique Baxter of Virginia Beach, a junior at Tallwood High School; Judy Hou of Midlothian, a junior at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School; Patrick Kelly of Herndon, a senior at Oakton High School; and Lydia Pickrell of Blacksburg, a junior at Blacksburg High School.
VFHY launched the Y Street volunteer movement for high school teens in 2004. Since then, more than 4,000 teens statewide have joined the organization and attended its training sessions. (There are about 700 to 1,000 active Y Street volunteers statewide at any given time.) The Y Street Leadership Team (consisting of a core group of exceptional teen volunteers) helps develop ideas for volunteer action projects that will further Y Street’s mission of educating Virginians to make healthy lifestyle choices, including preventing and reducing youth tobacco use.
Y Street received national and statewide recognition for their innovative MeltDown Campaign, which educated Virginians about new flavored smokeless tobacco products that resemble candy and mints. (The FDA asked Y Street to submit the results of a survey the teens conducted about these smokeless tobacco products as evidence in federal hearings to consider whether the products should be banned.) Other recent efforts by Y Street include its Counterbalance Campaign to increase awareness of the presence and impact of tobacco advertising to youth in retail stores and the Because of You Kelly Campaign, which successfully prodded pop singer Kelly Clarkson to drop tobacco company sponsorship of one of her international tours.
In Virginia, 19.7 percent of high school students smoke and 9,400 kids become new daily smokers every year. Tobacco use kills 9,200 Virginia residents each year and costs the state $2.08 billion in health care bills. Nationally, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs the country $96 billion in annual health care expenditures.
Based in Washington, D.C., the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leader in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences in the United States and around the world. By changing public attitudes and public policies regarding tobacco use, the Campaign strives to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.
About the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth:
Established by the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth is responsible for statewide efforts to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use and childhood obesity. Thanks to VFHY’s efforts over the last decade, the number of high school smokers has dropped by about a third in Virginia and the number of middle school smokers has plummeted by more than 65 percent!
The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth directly reaches more than 120,000 children through classroom-based prevention programs in hundreds of public schools, after-school programs, community centers, daycares and prevention programs statewide. The Foundation’s award-winning “Y do u think” marketing campaign delivers prevention messages to 600,000 children annually through TV and radio ads and Internet content. The Foundation is funded through a portion of Virginia’s share of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).
For more information about the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, please visit our website at www.vfhy.org.