Four APS students have been named Youth Advocates of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The teens are members of the H.E.A.R.T. Coalition of Atlanta which helps raise awareness of and take action against tobacco throughout Atlanta and in the African-American community.
The young leaders joined more than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders at the 18th annual gala in Washington, D.C. on May 15, 2014.
Joseph Cole, 18, a 2014 graduate of Carver Health Science and Research; Cantrell Foster, 18, a senior at North Atlanta High School; Deshanda Smarr, 16, a junior at Carver Health Science and Research; and Desha Smarr, 15, a sophomore at Carver School of the Arts accepted the award.
The group was awarded a $2,500 grant which will go towards future youth initiatives of the H.E.A.R.T. Coalition and the winners will serve as ambassadors for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“Young leaders like them are crucial in the fight to make tobacco history and end this epidemic for good. With their help, we can create the first tobacco-free generation.” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The honor is a result of their work on a successful campaign for a tobacco-free parks ordinance last year. The teens gathered signatures for a petition, created displays and posters for area malls and organized Kick Butts Day and Great American Smokeout events.
The teens also attended a City Council meeting to inform council members about the problems of secondhand smoke and cigarette butt litter in community parks. The ordinance passed with unanimous support. The students plan to work on a countywide smoke-free parks campaign in the future.
The H.E.A.R.T. Coalition of Atlanta is a community coalition funded by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.