As the new Reality Check Coordinator for the GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming) region, I feel very excited, as well as fortunate, to continue my work in coalition building and driving collaborative action among youth, leaders and partners in our community. Here’s 3 top reasons I’m glad to be on board:

1. The highly passionate people. The first thing I’ve noticed — and what is so refreshing to see — is that there’s such a strong and motivated group of people that support the Tobacco Prevention and Control mission throughout New York State.The relationships I build with these folks will help me initiate strong Reality Check groups in our counties. Plus, from what I’ve experienced so far, so many schools, businesses and civic groups are both willing and excited to create a “Partnership Interaction” that will help our Reality Check groups achieve their goals with Point of Sale, Tobacco-Free Outdoors, Smoke Free Media and Smoke Free Multi-Unit Housing.

2. The youth. I love working with tweens and teens and they seem to take to me as well. (Maybe it’s because I’m short and according to most people “dynamic.”) Watching them get actively involved in a project, issue or challenge inspires me. Whether the issue is underage drinking, drug abuse or tobacco control, I love to watch them educate their peers, organize activism efforts and lobby  elected officials. I so look forward to engaging GLOW youth and shaping them into well-spoken, tobacco-free advocates and leaders.  As you can see from these statistics, we need this advocacy because tobacco use among youth in the U.S. is still a major issue.

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and 99% first tried smoking by age 26.
  • Each day in the United States, more than 3,800 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and an additional 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers.
  • Flavorings in tobacco products can make them more appealing to youth.
    • In 2014, 73% of high school students and 56% of middle school students who used tobacco products in the past 30 days reported using a flavored tobacco product during that time.

View more Facts and Statistics

3. The challenge. I’ve never met a challenge I didn’t meet head on. So when it comes to fighting Big Tobacco, I say “Bring it.” Because I’m ready to embrace the challenge of growing the Reality Check program throughout the GLOW region. I’m confident that my past experiences in community coalition development with drug abuse, alcohol abuse, homelessness, and other youth concerns, will help me succeed in building a Reality Check program that will mobilize change throughout our region.

-Shelly Wolanske, Reality Check Coordinator GLOW Region