WASHINGTON, D.C. – Joshua Pritchett, 17, of Chesapeake, Va., has been named the East Region Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for his leadership in the fight against tobacco. Joshua will be honored at a gala in Washington, D.C., on Thursday evening, May 14.
Joshua is a member of Y Street, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s award-winning teen volunteer initiative that promotes a healthier state. He serves on the Y Street Leadership Team, which plans activities in schools and communities statewide. Joshua has worked with Y Street to educate members of Virginia’s General Assembly about the importance of tobacco prevention programs.
Joshua has been a leader in Y Street’s 24/7 campaign, which focuses on prohibiting the use of tobacco products on public school campuses, including all school property and at all school events. He spoke to the Chesapeake School Board about why all schools in the district should be tobacco-free, presenting survey data about where students were exposed to tobacco use and secondhand smoke on campus. A Y Street member since 2013, Joshua has also worked on projects such as
“We are thrilled to honor Joshua as our East Region Youth Advocate of the Year,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Young leaders like Joshua are changing minds and getting results – both by convincing their peers to reject tobacco and spurring elected officials to take action. With their help, we can make the next generation tobacco-free.”
More than 400 public health, business, civic and political leaders will attend the gala to recognize Joshua, three additional regional award winners, one national winner and one group winner. The winners will receive scholarships to continue their prevention efforts and will also serve as youth ambassadors for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Joshua plans to attend Old Dominion University in the fall and major in political science.
Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans and costing the nation about $170 billion in health care bills each year. Without strong action now, 5.6 million kids alive today will die prematurely from tobacco-caused disease, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
In Virginia, tobacco use kills 10,300 people and costs the state $3.1 billion in health care expenses each year. Currently, 11.1 percent of the state’s high school students smoke.
Additional information about the youth award winners, gala and tobacco can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
About the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY)
Established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1999, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth empowers Virginia’s youth to make healthy choices by promoting active, nutritious and tobacco-free living. Since the Foundation began its work in 2001, high school smoking in Virginia has been cut by more than 60 percent and the number of middle school smokers has dropped by more than 75 percent!
The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth directly reaches about 50,000 children each year through classroom-based prevention programs in public schools, after-school programs, community centers, day cares and prevention programs across the state. VFHY’s award-winning marketing campaigns deliver prevention messaging to more than 500,000 children annually.
About Y Street
Started in 2004, Y Street is the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s teen volunteer group for high school students. Y Street youth work on obesity and tobacco prevention to help create a healthier Virginia. Y Street members have been invited to testify before the FDA and have worked on public health issues with top government officials, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Virginia’s Governor, and Virginia’s Attorney General. Since 2004, almost 8,000 teens statewide have participated in Y Street. For more information, visit www.YStreet.org.