Sault Tribe Health Educator begins Journey to Inspire Tobacco-Free Youth in the U.P.

Sault Tribe Health Educator begins Journey to Inspire Tobacco-Free Youth in the U.P.

Colin Welker one of 30 national activism fellows appointed by Truth Initiative from more than 750 applicants

Colin Welker PictureSAULT STE. MARIE, Michigan (Jan. 5, 2016) – A Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Community Health educator is leading efforts to create the next generation of tobacco-free youth.  Certified Health Education Specialist Colin Welker has been selected as one of 30 to participate in the 2015-16 Youth Activism Fellowship.  Truth Initiative, America’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to teen smoking prevention, appointed Welker out of more than 750 applicants nationwide.

Youth Activism Fellowship is a 12-month leadership development and community activism program.  Fellows, ages 18-24, learn from nationally renowned public health experts and have the opportunity to network with other young adults from around the nation.  They receive specialty training in tobacco-related health equity, regulatory policy, media and communications.

As a certified health education specialist, Welker works with the Sault Tribe Nicotine Dependence Program and provides one-on-one commercial tobacco cessation counseling.  In his job, he’s become passionate about youth tobacco prevention and applied for the fellowship as another opportunity to create positive change in the region.

“I’m really excited to represent the Sault Tribe and to have them nationally recognized for tobacco prevention programs,” Welker said.  “This is another great opportunity to show how we are effectively engaging youth in tobacco prevention.”

Fellows are required to lead a local impact project in their community that highlights the efficacy of their tobacco control efforts.  Welker’s goal is to create a youth tobacco task force within the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians community.  The task force will work to influence policy change regarding commercial tobacco use.  Through leadership training, tribal youth will earn skills to effectively advocate in their communities.

“Together, we will work to create the next generation of tobacco-free youth while still maintaining the integrity of traditional sacred tobacco,” Welker said.

Truth Initiative’s primary focus is engaging young people in efforts to change social norms around tobacco use.  According to the organization’s research, more than 80 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette by age 18.

About Truth Initiative

Truth Initiative, formerly the American Legacy Foundation, is America’s largest non-profit public health organization dedicated to achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco.  Truth Initiative has helped bring teen cigarette use down from 23 percent in 2000 to 8 percent in 2014.  The organization’s truth anti-youth smoking ad campaign won an Effie Award in 2005.

Truth’s website is located here:

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