Full Sail hosted a day of educational seminars during the second annual National Summit on Youth Activism, which was created by the Truth Initiative.
The week-long summer training program brought seventy high school students from around the country here to Orlando, where they learned how to better spread information about the dangers of tobacco through effective activism strategies, approaches to community engagement, traditional and new media outreach, and organizing through the lens of social justice.
Truth sent out a mass invitation for this summit to youth groups across the nation, as well as specific tobacco prevention control groups they work with throughout the year. The applicants were asked to submit a project topic they would consider doing in their community if they had any and every resource needed to accomplish it.
“We don’t want youth who just want to put up posters in their schools,” said Youth Activism Manager for Truth Initiative Vincent Irving. “We want youth who are going to think outside the box, who present topics that are closely related to tobacco control issues in their community, and who have issues that align with our current or future campaigns.”
Truth was looking for a home here in Central Florida, and Full Sail became involved when Samuel Allen, one of the founding members of the Florida truth campaign, contacted his long-time friend and Entertainment Business master’s Course Director Cassi Willard. Samuel felt that Full Sail was the perfect place to host this event because of its strong background in the entertainment and technology industries. Throughout the day, the participants rotated through three seminars: how to create an impactful infographic, how to use social media to successfully convey your message, and filming on-camera interviews.
“Truth has such a great message, and the students have been learning so much from the event. They’re building such a huge knowledge base with all of the technology that they’re being exposed to, and all of the students I’ve talked to are just overwhelmed after being able to see and tour all of our facilities,” Cassi said.
Cassi acted as the Event Organizer and worked with Full Sail’s High School Outreach team in conjunction with representatives from truth to bring this together, and a handful of Full Sail instructors dedicated their time as well to teaching the students.
“This is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to work with Full Sail, and we’re excited because they bring a unique perspective of how to use and engage the tool of media when it comes to getting your message out and organizing people around your campaigns,” said Vincent. “We’ve seen areas that we aren’t using right now that we can probably include in our programming next year, and maybe we’ll spend two days here instead of just one.”
The most important part of this entire week is the students and the education they gained from this experience. “This week has been so impactful to me because it’s so empowering to be in an environment full of other innovative youth working toward a similar goal,” said summit participant Sedona Allen. Sedona is from Denver, Colorado and heard about the program while working an event with her employer, Denver Public Health. “I knew I had to apply for it to expand my knowledge on the dangers of tobacco, and because I can relate to so many of the social justice issues we see today.”
“The main thing I would take away from this whole experience is to take opportunities as they come,” Sedona continued. “I would have never been able to experience all of these amazing things and learn so much if I hadn’t taken the risk to come to Florida. I came from a bad place, but I transformed myself into something I could be proud of, and I believe that anyone can be that rose that grows from concrete.”