Make a Change as a Youth in Advocating for Policy
Hi, my name is Claudia Valenzuela. I'm a senior at Arrowhead Park Early College High School. I have been a part of Evolvement for almost four years now and almost two years for being part of the Evolvement New Mexico Leadership Team. Policy helps create a safe protocol for a community. It’s important to have strong policies in place to keep communities safe and a secure environment for everyone.
The No Minor Sale campaign’s policy aim is to end the illegal sale of tobacco products which would benefit the community of New Mexico by protecting our youth. We protect our future by moving towards healthier lives with tobacco policy. Since joining Evolvement, I have strived to go out into the community to spread creating a safe space for kids to learn, as well as a space for parents to become involved with their children and have the chance to express themselves through opinion surveys and messages of support.
Parents want the best for their children but when I see young adults wanting change, it seems even more powerful to be part of something that will greatly impact our future generations. Youth should care about this policy since the effects of positive policies determine their health, as well as those they are surrounded by. Working with Evolvement has taught me that although I'm still a young adult, I'm still capable of making an impact. I have learned that I can change and help prevent tobacco use by educating those around me, which is a great way to engage in something that has been affecting us for years like tobacco product use.
Tobacco exposure just creates curiosity to use for young adults. Tobacco hasn’t just stained my clothes with a harsh scent, its addiction has affected my family by becoming part of my dad’s character and personality. It’s damaged the way my dad moves through his day, colds aren’t just colds. They become a battle of long, short, continuous breaths. Watching someone struggle with addiction is harsh, especially when it's something that is most of the time glorified by the media. The influence to not use can change the way kids see tobacco, making them aware that these products were never meant for youth consumption.
A policy helps create a safe protocol for a community. It’s important to have strong policies in place to keep communities safe and a secure environment for everyone. Working with Evolvement has taught me to be available to help and communicate with adults as well as students.
If students become more involved in advocating for policy, I think we would change the way tobacco has imprinted on the majority of us. Supporting the policy change Evolvement is trying to make could help create a healthier environment here in New Mexico.