Support needed

Tiffany Whalen

Dear editor:
Recently, the Youth Action Alliance was informed of its program funds being eliminated and the program being cancelled as of Aug. 31, 2009.
The program started in June, 2005, and for the last four years it has taught many youth how to advocate and create change in their own communities.
From being a peer leader for the past four years myself, I am very upset to hear of the cut.
I am proud to have been a part of the YAA since I was 15, and all of the policy change we have created regardless of the backlash throughout the process.
In July, 2008, the Northwest Youth Action Alliance put all its focus into the “Flavour . . . Gone!” campaign. Currently, Bill C-32 is in the process of being passed by Parliament.
The main goal of this bill is to ban youth-targeted flavours in tobacco industry products.
I am writing this letter to ask the people of Fort Frances and surrounding areas, as a community, to stand up and support us! We need your help and support to change the minds of the provincial government.
It is hard for me to say the government has made a huge mistake, but they have! We youth finally had a voice in health promotion and community organizations and they have taken that away.
Where else is a youth in our community going to have a voice? Where else is a youth in Ontario going to advocate for change?
This placement in health units in all of Ontario has given youth an opportunity for a voice, advocacy, and leadership training, as well as a chance to influence their peers to make healthier lifestyle choices.
It is estimated that the YAA program’s activities and efforts resulted in 4,890 earned mentions from print, radio, TV, and Internet media. On average, that is roughly 13 earned media stories each day since the program started.
According to the 2007 Ontario Student Drug Survey, between 2003 and 2007 there was a significant increase in lifetime abstinence from tobacco use across all grades.
At the time of the survey, 93 percent of Grade 7 students and 55 percent of Grade 12 students refrained from using tobacco products. Among students in Grade 12, tobacco use declined from 16 percent in 2003 to eight percent in 2007.
The Youth Action Alliance started in 2005. I do not think these statistics are a coincidence to that fact.
If you support the difference we have made, please call, fax, write, and e-mail all our MPs, MPPs, and government ministers. We need your help!
Tiffany R. Whalen
Fort Frances, Ont.