Meeting Youth Where They Are: Creating Opportunities for Connection : VFHY
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Empower Series
Youth Engagement

Meeting Youth Where They Are: Creating Opportunities for Connection

November 11, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm ET

This Empower Series event is presented by The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and Prevention Connections.

Over the past 20 years The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi has connected with youth through tobacco prevention initiatives that take place at student-based events whether they be during school, after school, or within at-risk communities. During this session, participants will learn strategies that PHM has successfully implemented though their Generation FREE high school tobacco prevention program that utilizes established student-based activities in order to provide students with educational tobacco free messaging that are relevant and fun.

The Generation FREE Program is important because it meets youth where they are and it involves them in the planning and implementation process. Generation FREE has a Youth Advocacy Board that works closely with us to provide us with the best methods to reach teenagers in a way that makes sense to them. PHM understands that young people involved in organizations can receive information on staying safe and healthy from their peers or adults they know and respect. Teenagers will in turn pass on this information to other teenagers.

Currently, Generation FREE utilizes events that are already taking place in the community. For example, a football game or a college fair. We then make a point to keep teenagers who are in attendance of these events engaged and aware of the tobacco and vape free message. We use incentives, the power of s ocial media, and also current information that gets youth in attendance of these events excited and intrigued at what we have to offer. We understand that young people are usually aware of the issues that affect them, They know what is currently happening in their community better than anyone else. We understand that youth listen to their peers, that is why we make use of our Youth Advisory Board and also make ourselves known at school or community events that they are attending. Youth have fun while they are learning about tobacco and vape prevention, and thus spread the word to their peers.

Generation FREE is successful with teenagers and young people because it is timely and relevant. it is youth led and it educates youth to make their own informed decisions. By meeting youth where they are, they see that they themselves have influence and can make a change within their school or community.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will learn how to use already established events youth are attending to spread tobacco prevention knowledge
  • Participants will learn how to implement tobacco prevention into a relevant youth voice.
  • Participants will learn how to engage and establish youth advocates to help implement and develop a strong youth voice.
  • Participants will be educated on the best methods of planning virtual events and keeping youth engaged during the pandemic.

Register today!

Jackson, MS native Christina Spann currently serves as the Youth Programs Coordinator for The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. With a bachelors degree in social work from Mississippi College, and a masters in Public Policy and Administration from Jackson State University, Christina has used her education to develop her passion in helping others. For over five years, she has worked in various realms of public health, teaching sex education and drug prevention to youth across the state of Mississippi and the southeast and educating marginalized communities. Her work at the partnership is no different, by providing public health education within the realm of tobacco prevention.


Sandra Shelson has been the Executive Director of The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi since 2004. Prior to that, she was a Special Assistant Attorney General for eleven years. She is involved with many organizations and currently serves on the UMMC Community Advisory Board for Clinical and Population Health as Vice-Chair; a co-chair of the Chronic Disease Committee for the States Health Improvement Plan, and the Chair for the Policy Committee for the States Tobacco Control Plan. She is on numerous public health committees and has presented at many local, state and national conferences.


Brookhaven, MS native Edward Moak currently serves as the Youth Programs Coordinator and Creative Director for The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. With a bachelors degree in graphic design from Mississippi College, Edward is a creative force and loves using his design abilities to help people through Generation FREE. During Edwards’s time at Mississippi College, he served as student body president, and uses his passion for people today in creating strong and meaningful events that get students excited. He loves working with students while creating designs that inspire and empower them.


November 11, 2020
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Virtual Meeting