Why YOU Should Join Evolvement by Sari Patrick

Hi, my name is Sarette Patrick, and I am a senior at Pecos Cyber Academy. I joined Evolvement my sophomore year of high school and joined the leadership team this year. During my sophomore year, and before I joined Evolvement, my to-do list looked something like this:

Make friends

Become more confident and up my public speaking skills

Make change in my community by using my voice for a cause I am passionate about

Earn money or other cool prizes

By joining Evolvement, you can check off all these boxes! As you can imagine, when I found out about the program after they came to my Algebra class to present, I was quick to join.

You may be wondering what this program is about. Evolvement is a program that encourages youth all across New Mexico to use their voice to advocate for ending the illegal sale of tobacco to minors, as well as to work to keep schools tobacco-free 24 hours, 7 days a week. We also educate ourselves and other youth just like us on the true dangers of tobacco products- addressing issues like tobacco companies’ youth-targeted marketing, and how flavored e-cigarettes are actually just as harmful as traditional tobacco products.

One way that we accomplish our advocacy goals is through presentations to school principals-encouraging them to sign on with our 24/7 campaign and make their school 100% comprehensive. This means they ban all tobacco use across their campus, as well as during school events. Another way we accomplish our goals is by meeting with New Mexico health and community organizations through the No Minor Sale campaign, encouraging them to sign on as partners. Garnering the support of many organizations is important because it shows lawmakers and legislators that this change is truly wanted by a myriad of New Mexico citizens; we are not alone in our desire for stricter tobacco policies or an increased tobacco tax. And that is not all we do. There are so many other ways you can make a difference. From writing blogs, to setting up a stand at your school or local farmers market, to collecting opinion surveys from people in your community, the advocacy options are endless!

Having a passion for positive change in your community is not the only reason you should join. The amount of fun you will have is enormous. Everyone in the program, from the Youth Field Organizers and other program leaders to the students themselves, are so friendly and smart. And while everyone has their own personal reasons for joining, we all share the same interest and passion for making our communities healthier and more aware of the issues we advocate for. You will make so many friends from all across the state.

During your time in this program, you will also grow as a person. Evolvement is youth-led, meaning it gives us teens a platform to express ourselves. We are the ones creating the change and using our voices, and in turn encouraging even more youth to do the same. Through this program and the advocacy work I participate in; I have realized just how important my opinions and voice are. It is extremely motivating to know that I can be heard, AND be the catalyst for real change! Not to mention that through many of the projects you choose to participate in, you will have so many opportunities to practice and improve your public speaking skills. While slightly intimidating at first, the training, preparation, and team support for such events will leave you feeling totally ready. My public speaking skills continue to improve since joining Evolvement to the point where I am hardly even nervous at all!

Last but not least, every opportunity you partake in earns you points, and these points can be redeemed for money or prizes. I have been saving my points since I joined the program, and they have added up very quickly!

By joining Evolvement, you can accomplish so much. You will make friends, grow as a person, make change in your community and state, earn prizes, and have so much fun. I am so glad I joined this program and got to experience all that I have. My only regret is not joining sooner. YOU should join Evolvement and become the next generation of change-makers. I hope to see you soon!

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