Hello! I’m Kaylynn Belew, a rising junior at Portales High School. I’ve been in Evolvement for three years and have spent two of those years on the leadership team. I joined Evolvement in the middle of the pandemic, in hopes of meeting more people my age who had similar goals.
Evolvement is a great program. It has taught me how to amplify my voice to create change in my community and build my confidence. I’ve had many conversations about the importance of youth advocacy and the negative effects of tobacco use among young adults. Evolvement has given me many opportunities to improve both my public speaking and leadership skills while fighting for a cause I care deeply about, a healthier New Mexico.
I’ve participated in many events with both the No Minor Sale and 24/7 campaigns. Portales hosts an annual Peanut Valley Festival where Evolvement students run a No Minor Sale booth. We collect surveys and have meaningful conversations with concerned community members about the use of flavored nicotine products among teenagers. The booth is always a huge success. The festival is a great way to get the community’s thoughts and to get the organization’s name out there. The festival is also a great opportunity for new Evolvers to practice their public speaking skills, along with seeing how their work affects the community. Evolvers get to see that they are supported by their community through these events.
I have also given a partner presentation about the 24/7 campaign to the Clovis Municipal School Board. We highlighted the progress the campaign has made recently and shared why we are so passionate about these programs. The members of the board and community were very interested in our presentation and our cause. I was very nervous at the beginning of the presentation but began to relax when I realized that the board cared about what we were saying. At the end of the presentation, the board expressed that they were glad to see young people, my age, out in the community fighting for what they believe in.
Evolvement and both campaigns have had such an impact on me and my community. I’ve grown so much as a person as well as educating my peers on tobacco use. As a result of the programs, I’ve also been able to connect with more people in my community.