On Take a Stand Day: Let Us Take Action
Greetings! My name is Chelsea Pritchard. Currently, I am a first-year Master's student at New Mexico State University studying public health. In the future, I hope to be employed in healthcare management and policy. Recently, I participated in No Minor Sale’s second annual Take a Stand Day virtually, which is a day dedicated to raising awareness to state legislators, such as senators and representatives about preventing youth access to tobacco products and educating about the dangers of flavored tobacco products. I initially became interested in volunteering through No Minor Sale because people I know have battled tobacco addiction, and I have seen the toll it takes on both their physical and mental health. Tobacco addiction can have lifelong impacts and I want to help prevent this problem for future generations.
Through Take a Stand Day, myself, other volunteers, and the campaign manager Michael met with several state legislators, including senators and representatives like Senator William P. Soules, Representative Nathan Small, Representative Raymundo Lara, and Representative Angelica Rubio. We were given the opportunity to present and discuss the importance of strong tobacco-free policies that impact New Mexico youth and speak on tobacco product prevention strategies, such as restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products from those selling and providing these products like retailers and manufacturers.
From this experience, I learned that getting in touch with key decision-makers is important since it allows us to increase awareness to people who have the power to affect lasting change. In my first meeting with Senator William P. Soules from District 37 in Doña Ana County, I felt slightly intimidated because I had never spoken to a ‘politician’ before. As it turned out, he and the others were all very pleasant and accessible. At the end of the ten minute presentations, there was time for a Q&A and all of the legislators were engaged and asked meaningful questions which made me feel really heard. As a result of this experience, I learned that state legislators are sensitive to their constituents' needs and problems, and they are receptive to hearing about our community's concerns. I also learned more about the government and the legislative process and have become more comfortable with public speaking.
I believe that events like Take a Stand Day can empower students and volunteers to become changemakers themselves. Overall, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet with state legislators, and I was very happy to take part in Take a Stand Day. I look forward to doing it again next year!