HONOLULU - More than a dozen Maui County youths are learning how to become anti-tobacco activists at the ongoing The Real Experience V Anti-Tobacco Youth Summit at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The three-day summit that began Tuesday is sponsored by REAL: Hawaii Youth Movement Against the Tobacco Industry. More than 60 youths from around the state are at the summit, whose goal is to teach participants anti-tobacco activism skills through workshops called "expression sessions," which are interactive seminars focused on helping the youths use self-expression in their activism.
REAL has invited experts, such as keynote speaker Andrea Quijada of the New Mexico Media Literacy Project, to show the youths how they can share their views about tobacco by using grass-roots marketing, video production, art, music, dance, poetry and acting.
"Expression sessions are an awesome way to learn counter marketing techniques so that teens can fight back against the tobacco industry in our own communities," said Alex Halley, Maui REAL member.
On Thursday, the youths will put their activism skills to the test by staging a "flashmob freeze" on the sidewalks of Waikiki. They will stop in their tracks at a designated and allotted amount of time to draw attention to themselves.
After the freeze, they will distribute informational cards with a message asking individuals to "take a minute to get to know the tobacco industry."
Other organizations sponsoring The Real Experience V Anti-Tobacco Youth Summit include the state Department of Health's Tobacco Education and Prevention Program, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii and Teen Line Hawaii.
REAL Hawaii has about 3,000 members standing up to the tobacco industry's deceptive marketing practices aimed at youth, a news release said. REAL sponsors events, conducts street marketing and has created the REAL brand to counter the influence of tobacco advertising.
REAL is coordinated through the Cancer Research Center, UH-Manoa, and funded by the Master Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund through the state Department of Health.
For more information on the summit event, see Web site www.therealmessage.net.