Youth in the Policymaking Process
Hello, my name is Cole Rowland and I am a Junior from Portales HS in the Southeast region of New Mexico. This will be my second year in the Evolvement program, and my first year as a part of the ENMLT or Evolvement Leadership Team. Youth advocacy has been a subject that I am very passionate about, getting involved is something I care a lot about and the outcomes of it are very rewarding.
As a new member of the ENMLT, I am so excited to be a part of the change that helps the youth of New Mexico. I feel that the youth need to be able to speak up and have a voice. After all, the youth is the future so they should have a voice in the matter. Being able to voice their opinions early in life sets them up to not have fear of it when they get older. Having a voice is the most powerful thing in life and to be able to defend yourself and speak up about something that isn’t right is very empowering.
Being able to be a part of the Evolvement program has helped me learn to speak up about more sensitive subjects and not be afraid to voice my opinion. At the Peanut Valley Festival in October of 2019 where this picture was taken, I was given many opportunities to voice my opinion and spread awareness about the effects of tobacco on my generation. As a program, we fought for the passing of tobacco retail licensing for tobacco products to provide accountability and assurance that the illegal sale of tobacco to minors would significantly decrease. By making it harder for the youth to obtain tobacco, the easier it would be to quit. Encouraging people to be pro-policy had its fair share of difficulties, but in the end, as an organization, we accomplished that goal with the support of thousands of New Mexicans that expressed their concern on the topic.
The passing of the tobacco retail licensing bill was a major success in youth activism within New Mexico. It showed that together, the youth can do great things when we voice our opinions and spread awareness. The Evolvement program has brought me to realize that the youth have the potential to do outstanding things. I hope that through being a part of the leadership team I will be able to accomplish many more great things this coming year.