My name is Olivia Fowler, and I am a sophomore at Portales High School. This is my first year as an Evolver. I was introduced to Evolvement through a member of PHS’ Evolvement Leadership Team, Cali Walker. She explained the main purpose of the Evolvement campaign (prevention of sale to and use of tobacco products to minors), and it struck me as something I thought I would be interested in, especially since I have had firsthand experience with youth tobacco use and how it can ruin their lives before they even have a chance to begin. But Evolvement can help with a lot of other things than just preventing tobacco use by minors. Public speaking, team-building, and even seeing things from the perspective of a person in charge are all things that hooked me to the Evolvement program. (Plus, the cool prizes you get by earning points are definitely a bonus.) I have a lot of friends in Evolvement, and they help me to reach the goals I’ve set for myself since becoming an Evolver.
The first contact I had with the Evolvement community was on Thursday, October 7, 2021, at our district Evolvement Training. Our Youth Field Organizer, Amanda, explained in a little more detail what the Evolvement program stands for. We had a lot of fun; Amanda told jokes and made us laugh whenever we had a bit of free time. My favorite activity we did was when we watched a few short videos about a topic assigned to us and answered questions to the group. This was my favorite activity because of all of the different topics the groups dealt with. It had never occurred to me all the ways tobacco companies market to the public, whether it be through Native American or black “representation”, flavored products to attract younger buyers, or even the “discount” of certain tobacco products. My group’s videos were about how tobacco companies use flavors and false marketing to persuade people to purchase their products. I have experienced this firsthand, as some of my friends use vapes with flavors such as bubble gum and menthol. This is an extreme issue for me, as I know that kids are attracted to things they find appealing to the senses, especially the sense of taste.
The main purpose of Evolvement is to educate minors on the dangers of tobacco sale and use. I think this is a huge issue, especially with today’s population of minors. I have seen and heard of many minors using drugs such as weed and marijuana, and it is undoubtedly affecting how they see their own lives and the lives of others. Being a part of Evolvement has not only let me know the dangers of early tobacco use, but it has also improved my public speaking skills. Evolvers are a part of not only a community, but a family, and the fact that we are all fighting together for a worthwhile cause is the greatest gift of all.