A program of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust will empower Oklahoma youth to improve health outcomes for themselves and future generations through the second phase of the TSET Healthy Youth Initiative.
The four-year youth advocacy and education program, Youth Action for Health Leadership (YAHL), is recruiting youth groups now for a statewide program launch this fall. Funding for the program was authorized by the TSET Board of Directors on Thursday.
The TSET Board of Directors also approved budget and contracts for fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1. The $49.8 million approved budget includes grants to fund cancer research, community-based grants, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, public health education efforts, loan repayment dollars for doctors who serve in underserved areas and prevention programs that improve health in Oklahoma.
Teens are facing increasing threats to good health as rates of vaping and obesity continue to climb in Oklahoma and nationally. Many of Oklahoma’s poor health rankings can be attributed to three preventable health behaviors – smoking, poor nutrition, and sedentary lifestyle. YAHL, the statewide youth initiative, offers youth the opportunity to positively impact Oklahoma’s numbers by promiting healthy behaviors. Teens will work on public health activities that make it easier to live healthy, active, tobacco-free lives.
“Promoting healthy behaviors is key to improving the health of Oklahomans, and that effort starts with our young people,” said Bruce Benjamin, Ph.D, vice-chair of the TSET Board of Directors. “Our young people are the ones who will bear the cost and the consequences of poor health. Youth Action for Health Leadership is an opportunity for Oklahoma students to change those trends and work toward a healthier state.”
YAHL is now accepting partner applications online from schools and organizations that would like to be a part of the program. The YAHL Partner Program is open to high school student clubs and organizations in Oklahoma. Being youth led, YAHL enables teens to learn leadership skills and encourages them to take significant ownership of activities and initiatives. YAHL provides in depth training to youth, ongoing support for partners and all the materials needed for activities.
Beginning in fall 2021, YAHL members will learn valuable lifelong skills like public speaking, networking and leadership abilities. YAHL staff will visit each school or organization to provide a hands-on interactive training for teens that equips them to directly lead initiatives in their communities across Oklahoma. Teens can be involved on many levels – from leading events and collecting community surveys, to meeting with their principal, school board and other key decision makers to create healthier communities.