CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — On Wednesday, West Virginia’s Raze program will hold its 2023 Raze Youth Summit.
The Raze program is the youth tobacco and prevention program for the state, which is funded by a grant from DHHR. The purpose of this event is to bring together youth from the Raze program across the state and educate them, inform them about new tobacco education activities, as well as help them recruit new Raze members.
Raze has crews at different middle and high schools across the state, as well as different community organizations that serve local youth. The organization has a total of 63 crews in 35 counties, with over 1,600 members.
“It’s important because we, you know, firmly believe that peer-to-peer education gets through to teenagers and youth the best so, we encourage that in our commotions and in all of our activities,” said Laura Williams, a Specialist for Health Promotions with the American Lung Association.
A 10th-grade student at Liberty High School, Breanna Cutright, first joined Raze back when she was in the 6th grade to help her grandfather with his addiction.
“My grandfather was a smoker, and I had been around it my entire life. It was something that I just recognized as normal,” she said.
Cutright eventually worked her way up to WV Raze Youth Ambassador and helped her grandfather quit smoking by utilizing the resources she gained from the organization.
“Raze is an educational-based program, so I was able to learn the facts I needed to share them with him so he knew the facts, and he was able to quit I think it was three years ago,” she added.
As a youth ambassador, Cutright and other student leaders travel to different local elementary and elementary schools throughout the year to educate them about the dangers of tobacco usage.
To plan for the youth summit this year, different youth ambassadors participated in a retreat over the summer to plan everything out. “Making it a super fun experience is what we’re trying to do at the summit,” Cutright stated.
For this year’s summit, students will hear from a motivational speaker, participate in breakout group sessions that focus on mental health and recruiting techniques, as well as witness a group presentation by a makeup artist.
This makeup artist will be using special effects makeup to show students the physical effects of long-term smoking. Different students, including Cutright, will participate in this demonstration to make it more interactive. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and run until 1:30 p.m. at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.