2019 CFE RC Youth Leadership Conference @

Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center

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Press Release on the Event…

Reality Check is a group of teens from across New York State who expose the truth about tobacco and the marketing practices of the tobacco industry. In America each year 489,000 people die due to tobacco use or exposure to secondhand smoke. Reality Check host events, meetings, training’s, street marketing actions and more to educate  and engage people in to taking action in meaningful ways to reduce the impact of tobacco. “Basically, we are trying to create the first tobacco free generation” said Scott Ruch, local Reality Check Program Coordinator at Tobacco-Free Clinton Franklin Essex. 


June 1st and 2nd, Reality Check youth from Clinton and Franklin counties joined together at the 2019 Youth Leadership weekend at Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Center.  The weekend activities were structured to help youth better understand who they are individually and how to work with each other even when they don’t see eye to eye. “The weekend was very informative, it not only helped my social skills, but my leadership skills too” said Abigail Batu-Tiako, a Plattsburgh High School junior. “I learned to step back and let others take on leading rolls even if that meant not succeeding.” Many tend to judge success based on a positive outcome. Sometimes we forget learning and character building are positive outcomes of failure. Lacie Robideau, an 8th grader and member of the Malone Reality Check team said, “My experience at the Reality Check Leadership Training was exciting and fun!”


Much of working in tobacco control is educating communities. Reality Check youth are encouraged to build relationships with local decision makers.  One of the sessions at this years youth summit was on how to “Adopt An Elected Official”. Youth were each assigned one of their local decision makers to keep in contact with over the next school year.  Youth received background information and some education on how their local government is organized in Clinton and Franklin Counties. From town supervisors to the mayor, city counselors to county legislators, youth will actively participate in local government by educating on the effects of nicotine products and tobacco marketing on young people.  


The Youth Leadership Weekend was also an opportunity to work on public speaking skills. Seasoned Reality Check youth leaders shared their own experience with good and bad elevator speeches. A powerful thirty second introduction can make or break a first impression. These are skills that will help Reality Check leaders in their community and in their future. 


Tom Bull, a Professional Speaker, Life Coach, Consultant, and Podcaster from Peru, NY concluded the Youth Leadership Weekend by encouraging the youth to really understand who they are internally. He went on to say, “We need to be aware of what we give our energy and attention to, and more specifically, what and who we surround ourselves. We only know what we know until we know differently. If we change our awareness and how we think, we can immediately change the quality and direction of our lives.”  Sarena Young, an 8th grade student from Stafford Middle School had this to say about Tom,“My favorite part of the weekend was the guest speaker, aka “Chicken Nugget Man”. He taught us character traits that make us human.”  


Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Since 2001, youth have come together across New York State to create the first tobacco-free generation and along the way they have changed the lives of many communities. Tobacco-Free Clinton Franklin Essex and Reality Check is funded through the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Tobacco Control utilizing evidence-based strategies to change the social norms around all nicotine products while creating healthy places to live, work and play.  The Champlain Valley Family Center has implemented the Reality Check program locally since 2001 and was recently re-funded through 2024. 


For more information about Reality Check contact: Tobacco-Free Clinton Franklin Essex at 518-570-7784 or realitycheck@cvfamilycenter.org or Visit WeWontBeBought on Facebook, www.realitycheckofny.com or www.tobaccofreecfe.com  

Click below to see photos from the weekend!