From Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!)
Asheville High School senior Tyler Long has been named the 2013 Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The award was created to honor top young leaders from across the country working to promote tobacco prevention legislation, expose tobacco marketing to youth, and prevent their peers from using tobacco.
Long, a youth staff member at Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) since 2010, will be honored at the annual Youth Advocates of the Year Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on May 2, 2013. The Campaign will also honor a military youth winner and four regional winners (East, South, West and Central). As the national winner, Long will receive a $5,000 scholarship and a $500 grant. He will also have an opportunity to work with the Campaign throughout the year to promote tobacco prevention across the country.
As a youth staff member at YES!, Long has advocated for continued tobacco prevention funding for North Carolina and tobacco-free and smoke-free policies in the state, met with legislators, connected community members to tobacco cessation resources, and educated his peers about tobacco use at YES! youth leader trainings.
Long also volunteers with the Project ASSIST Tobacco Prevention Coalition and has been the president of Asheville High School’s Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) club since his sophomore year. As part of the club, Long has organized cigarette butt pickups in the city, cleanups on the school campus and other tobacco prevention efforts.
Long’s passion for tobacco control and prevention started at a young age. Long grew up with a grandparent who owned a tobacco farm and much of his family used tobacco. “Growing up I was confused as to why I saw so many people benefiting from tobacco on the farm and family members using tobacco products, yet I was always told that it was ‘bad’ and ‘unhealthy,’” said Long.
Wanting to make a difference, Long joined the TATU club at Asheville Middle School in 7th grade. Long was introduced to YES! through his involvement in TATU and joined the YES! staff during his sophomore year. After graduation Long plans to attend college to study government or public health.
“My passion for tobacco control has grown tremendously during my time at YES!,” said Long. “I have gained insight into the legislative process and the role of youth in creating positive, lasting change.”
About Youth Empowered Solutions
Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) is a North Carolina-based nonprofit that empowers youth, in partnership with adults, to create community change. YES! equips youth and their adult allies with the tools they need to positively impact adolescent health. YES! advocacy work is centered on strategies that empower youth to address critical issues facing their communities: teen tobacco use, childhood obesity, substance abuse and access to health care. For more information visit www.youthempoweredsolutions.org.