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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world

July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 1:30 PM

Evolution of a Statewide Youth Empowerment Program

Jennifer Wilson, Tobacco Use Prevention Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health, 1000 NE 10th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73117

Objective: Since its inception in 1999, Oklahoma Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) has transformed its organizational structure several times in order to respond to changes in program resources, including fluctuations in program funding levels and challenges of working within a rural state. This presentation will cover how a youth-led, youth-driven movement in a rural state has successfully adapted to recurrent changes in program resources by refining operating procedures and processes.

Methods: Due to a reduction of program funds, SWAT shifted from a statewide governance board to a team approach that included collaboration among and between SWAT members, adult partners, regional and state staff. Over the course of the movement, SWAT eliminated the County, Regional, and State Boards and replaced them with voluntary project committees. This shift increased leadership opportunities and decision-making authority to a broader spectrum of youth.

These changes also brought increased commitment, leadership and activity at the local level. As a result, SWAT was well prepared for expansion of their movement when the community-based, comprehensive tobacco control program was launched.

Results: With an efficient operative structure and through community collaboration and partnerships, SWAT has been successful in adapting to change, increasing leadership opportunities, and creating lasting and sustainable changes in Oklahoma. As evidenced by a high level of requests for consultation and technical assistance, Oklahoma's SWAT program has been widely recognized by leaders of corresponding programs in other states as a model for achieving high levels of youth involvement and activity with minimum resources.

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