10 Evolvers and 20 Legislators Make a Healthier New MexicoMy name is Abigail and I am a junior at Los Lunas High School in Los Lunas, NM. This is my first year in Evolvement and I have already had some incredible opportunities to engage peers in my school and members of the community by conducting events and legislator meetings.
On January 31, 2018, ten Evolvers had the opportunity to attend the New Mexico Allied Council on Tobacco (NMACT) Day at the Capitol in Santa Fe, NM. I, along with Jaeann Gonzales, began the day by speaking at a press conference about the work Evolvement is doing with both the 24/7 and No Minor Sale campaigns. The 24/7 campaign helps New Mexico schools be TRULY tobacco-free, which means that no matter the time of day, absolutely no tobacco products are used at any school-sponsored event by anyone. The No Minor Sale campaign works to educate communities on the dangers and surprising frequency of illegal tobacco sales to minors in New Mexico.
On this day, Evolvement youth engaged 20 individual New Mexico legislators to discuss the work that Evolvement is doing and reiterate its importance. For example, fellow Los Lunas Evolvers Frankie and Tyra met with our local Representative Kelly Fajardo; Evolvers Jaeann and Dezarea met with Senator Sander Rue; and Evolvers Eliana and Lea met with Senator Carroll Leavell. In the beginning, we were nervous about approaching our legislators, but they were incredibly open to hearing about our work and appeared to be very supportive and enthusiastic about it, which made it quite a pleasant experience. Meeting with these lawmakers was an eye-opening and educational experience.
Evolvement offers New Mexico youth the chance to do campaign work in a safe and constructive manner and gain priceless leadership opportunities. As a youth leader, this was a very important personal experience because I have family members who are now experiencing the negative effects of tobacco use. Knowing that this work could help New Mexico become safer makes me feel like I am part of an incredible, worthwhile movement that will also help me grow as a person. To continue promoting our campaign work, I will attend events to educate these groups on ending illegal tobacco sales to minors and meet with my principals and administrators to ensure that our school tobacco policies are 100% comprehensive. I will also talk to the people in my life about tobacco use so that we can come together to combat the use of this deadly product.