“I got my father to quit smoking,” said an overjoyed Reality Check teen Ryan Newman just two years after he joined our teen advocacy program while attending the High School for Public Service. Ryan hails from East Flatbush, Brooklyn and was introduced to our work in the summer of 2015 through the Futures & Options’ Coro Exploring Leadership program. That summer, Ryan and his peers dug right into community advocacy – learning about Big Tobacco’s manipulative history for deceiving customers and how they successfully capitalize on addictions. These teens attended meetings with the Brooklyn Cyclones, participated in the planning of the Brooklyn Borough President’s first Summer Movies Family event in Prospect Park, and presented to several Brooklyn youth groups. From day one in the program Ryan said he was committed to making a positive impact in his community through leadership and being a voice. Throughout his time in the program and now as a proud Alumni he continues to leave an impact and has kept his word.
Ryan is currently a Deans list student at Nassau Community College where he has continued his love of wrestling and more importantly being a great leader. Through the pandemic he is taking classes via Zoom and although sports are currently on hold, he is still flexing his leadership skills by helping with his school’s intramural sports department – setting up gaming tournaments and virtual wellness events. He has remained a committed advocate of smoke-free initiatives and an ally advocating for those who suffer from addictions – just like his dad – and trying to seek help and make plans to quit. As our program looks to the upcoming American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout (GASO) on November 19, this flashback of Ryan reminds us of the power of youth influence in smoke-free work and creating a smoke-free generation.
The Great American Smokeout is an annual event that encourages smokers to make a plan to quit smoking. On that third Thursday in November our borough teams will be lifting up these efforts throughout our neighborhoods. Years in this work has taught us that it isn’t easy for smokers to quit, it may even take more than one attempt. Our Alumni Champ Ryan reminded us that if you’re a parent, the number one reason you may want to quit is for your children – let GASO be day 1 – even if its just for that day. Be a Champ!