News and Events

Local Students Work Against Tobacco Youth Attend Regional Training in Clay County
October 1, 2015

ORANGE PARK, FL - Florida’s Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) program held its annual regional meeting on Saturday, September 25, 2015. Every year, regional SWAT meetings take place in each of four regions across Florida on the same day, but in different locations. Approximately 42 SWAT members attended to represent Region 2 in Orange Park, as well as two Dixie County SWAT officers.

Dixie County High School SWAT Club President, Ivey Sapp and Chelsea Deloach, a SWAT Officer, attended the Region 2 meeting. Both officers were very excited to meet with SWAT youth from around the region and to see all of the work that has been done by the Region 2 Youth Advocacy Board members.

SWAT Selfie!

The theme for the regional meeting this year was a puzzle. The idea was based on the fact that Region 2 includes 21 counties and each county could be looked at as a piece of a puzzle. The motto “Pieces of the Puzzle, Part of the Whole” was developed during a planning meeting and put on a large piece of foam board, which was then cut into jigsaw pieces. The pieces were placed in sealed envelopes and hidden around the conference center as a scavenger hunt icebreaker activity to kick off the SWAT meeting. Each student who found a puzzle piece assembled them at the end of the day to show the completed image of the 4 regions of Florida.

The viewing of the new SWAT Recruitment Video lead to a brainstorming session on how they could use the recruitment video in their schools and community to inspire people to join the organization. Two learning sessions took place before lunch and two after lunch.  SWAT youth delivered presentations to the attendees, who were split into two groups – newer SWAT members and more experienced SWAT members. The newer SWAT members attended a session called SWAT Overview. More experienced members attended a session called Advanced Communication.

After lunch, the experienced members in attendance participated in a session called Maximizing SWAT’s Potential. This session was designed to help guide SWAT members through creating a policy change advocacy plan using the MAD Skills brainstorming tool, which helps members brainstorm the Message, Audience, and Delivery for a desired policy change.

Jordan Marlett, Levy County SWAT student ikntroduced SWAT members to an Advocacy Skills and Experience Questionnaire, which they can use to assess the abilities of their SWAT members in an effort to match their skills with projects that need to be completed during the course of advocating for policy change. At the same time as Jordan’s presentation, the less experienced members attended a session called SWAT Jumpstart delivered by Neelam Patel from Putnam County SWAT.

During the afternoon portion of the meeting, an election for the new 2015-2016 SWAT Youth Advocacy Board (YAB) took place. The YAB is a twelve-member group of SWAT students who are elected annually by their peers to serve as regional representatives and youth advisors for the statewide tobacco program. There are three representatives and one alternate elected for each of Florida’s four tobacco control regions.

Finally, there was the unveiling of the new statewide activity calendar, which was facilitated by Daniel from Flagler County. The SWAT calendar is intended to help guide SWAT chapters with activity ideas for each month of the calendar year. Giant pages for each month of the year were printed out and put on the walls as decoration for the meeting. The very last item on the agenda was an announcement about the Region 2 SWAT Summit which will take place in March. SWAT members from every county were recruited to join a planning committee for the SWAT Summit. Both SWAT members from Dixie County signed up to assist with the planning.  This will be a great opportunity to work with otherRegion 2 SWAT youth. 

Both Ivey and Chelsea plan to share their experience at the Region 2 SWAT meeting with the other members of the Dixie County SWAT club, with the officers at Ruth Rains Middle School SWAT Club and the newly formed Character Community School SWAT club to help build a stronger county-wide SWAT Chapter.

For more information on the SWAT program in Dixie County, contact Melanie Anderson at