Youth advocates play a key role in advocacy. Noah Rich, an advocate and senior at Towson High School, has been a You’re the Cure advocate for three years, working on state issues, attending Federal Lobby Day with his friends, and speaking up about tobacco issues that were important to him. Noah has learned the power of stories. “When I first went to testify on Tobacco 21 legislation with a few other high schoolers 3 years ago, one piece of advice we got was to really use our stories: statistics and data are concrete, but stories and anecdotes are what make those facts matter.”
hero_image_alt_text===A picture of Noah.
thumbnail_alt_text===A picture of Noah.
Noah used this tactic to drive home the need for an increased tobacco tax in Maryland. Noah told his State Senator about how his school bathrooms were tagged with the title “Juul Lounge” spray painted on the walls. His personal account mattered so much that when it came time for the Senate to debate the override, his State Senator mentioned Noah’s story in his arguments to support the veto override and increase the tobacco tax. “When I heard the news, I was first surprised, but then I was very quickly gratified and awe-inspired. Our stories mattered and made a difference…. I think our story was compelling because it was straight-forward, honest, and easy to visualize: bathrooms spray painted “Juul Lounge." The power of Noah’s advocacy helped compel this legislator to act with Noah and his issues in mind. On using stories to drive home what you want as an advocate, Noah says “They allow legislators to put themselves in our shoes, and really understand the scope of the problems they have the power to fix. In the end, every little bit really does matter and makes a difference.”
Advocates like Noah who tell their stories demonstrate what it means to be a relentless force for longer, healthier lives. Voices like Noah's are the cornerstones of advocacy. They help drive home the “why" for policies that keep communities healthier.
“I got involved in advocacy because I saw a problem and a clear way I could help. In middle school, I started reading the news, learning about how the world works. I learned about when it works, when it doesn’t, and those who are responsible for keeping the balance. The more I read about the world and the structures that run it, the more I wanted to get involved and make a difference. Advocacy, for me, was a natural way to do that: taking what I know, and applying it to make something in the world better. It’s all of our duties, no matter who we are or where our talents lie, to fight for a better world.”