Igniting Action at Youth Summit 2023: An Acrostic Poem

Written by Brooklyn Reality Check Youth Engagement Manager, Brittany Hale, and Student Interns, Fatou Wague, June Hong, Magnus Jackson, and Starr Sinclair.

Y – Youth

“By spending their time at the mall gathering signatures on giant mural, palm card pitching, and hands on activities and games such as cornhole, the youth implemented both work and play into their time spent at the mall to encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, stand up to the tobacco industry and its deceptive marketing, and urge elected leaders to take action.”

O – Organized

“During the Youth Summit, we organized a tabling event to speak to different people about the tobacco industry’s impact on teens.”

U – United

“Over 100 adolescents from ages 13-18 visited the Aviation Mall in Queensbury, NY as part of the “It’s Not Just” campaign, a statewide tobacco control initiative to bring awareness to not just the risks of teen smoking, but the other negative impact on the use of menthol tobacco products among the many disparate communities. These youth united under the aim to be critical and powerful voices in the fight against Big Tobacco.”

T – Thought-provoking

“One important and thought-provoking activity was called “Drowning Out Big Tobacco”. We were given “fiery” statements (written on pieces of paper shaped like a flame) with quotations from Big Tobacco and were tasked to put out the flame with water by matching that statement to the corresponding response from Reality Check (written on a piece of paper shaped like a water drop). We discussed and practiced pushing back on those statements with truth and building power as a community.” 

H – High-energy

“We were told how to be better leaders and activists in our community with high-energy talks, debates, and activities throughout the 3 days. Simple ice breakers every 30 minutes kept us on our feet and ready for the next activity. Group activities strengthened our teamwork and cooperation skills while also teaching us how to pull our own weight while on a team. The entire Summit was very educational while being very fun. I know I left with both memories and lessons which I will carry with me and use as I continue to fight against Big Tobacco’s efforts to poison the youth.”

S – Stimulated

“The sessions constantly stimulated one to think about the different aspects of tobacco and menthol and by doing this, we can start to generate new and useful ideas to help support our cause.” 

U – Unique

“This event was very unique to me because you do not really see many youths wanting to speak about smoking, and the experience was very eye-opening.” 

M – Memorable

“This year’s Summit was my first and was an especially fun and memorable experience. The summer brought together youth from all over NYS to unite against Big Tobacco and learn more about the injustices they cause. From how they target certain races and communities to how they are attracting and addicting the new generation of youth, we learned about the evils of Big Tobacco.” 

M – Mindful

“During the challenge courses, we had to remain mindful, being keenly aware of both ourselves and each other. It was crucial to maintain composure and adaptability in the face of obstacles.”

I – Inspiring

“It was inspiring to see dozens of teenagers, many of whom just met hours before, working together on chalk murals, posters, songs, and chants together. I was impressed with their commitment to whatever activity was given, but also their willingness to stretch outside of their comfort zones and connect with their peers.” 

T – Transformative

“The transformative aspect of Youth Summit this year was my change in perspective regarding tobacco products and menthol.”


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