PHAST Club Youth Advocacy in Full Force

Helen Husky, Staff Writer

PHAST club (Protecting Heath and Slamming Tobacco) attended a youth advocacy conference Tuesday, October 2 in Modesto to learn how to combat the drug, alcohol, and tobacco issues facing the nation and especially youth today.

The conference featured a keynote speaker, Eric Rowles, a nationally recognized speaker who has worked with over 150,000 youth, adults, administrators, professionals, and policymakers within the past 15 years. Rowles’ keynote focused on the theme FROM HOW TO WOW:  Rocks Stars Leading to Change.  Rowles, a speaker and DJ, filled the room with music, fun, and interactive games all the while making clear his message that it only takes one to make a difference.

“Eric was really interactive and his story meant a lot to other people and I could tell that he was speaking from the heart and that is was genuine” Abianna Solorzano, sophomore PHAST club member, stated.

More than 250 students from 27 high schools in Stanislaus County attended the conference.  After the keynote, students attended breakout sessions where they  learned about tobacco and drugs, activities to plan RRW, up-to-date information about JUUL and e-cigarette, creating policy from idea to action, developed anti-tobacco PSA’s, learned to create anti-tobacco campaigns, how to discover their leadership potential, and photovoice projects used for youth advocacy.

Reine Sloan, junior PHAST club member stated that she enjoyed the breakout sessions and that they,  “were able to meet people from new schools and learn about photovoice and how to label it to show awareness of the effects of other’s environments.”

The PHAST club will now be bringing back all of the information that they gained at the conference in hopes to apply what they have learned to Red Ribbon Week, The Great American Smoke Out, Presentations to the entire Hughson Unified School District, Escape the Vape Day, Through with Chew week, and Kicks Butts Day.

“Going to the conference gave us more insight into the activities that we can do and how we can use them to tie it into Red Ribbon Week. We are able to alter activities to make them our own” Senior PHAST member, Celeste Puga, explained.