Holbrook Junior Recognized at Statewide Tobacco Prevention Event


© 2018 Marilyn Humphries

Youth in The 84 Movement march through Boston Common.

Jessica West, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Sarah Ryan, a junior at Holbrook Middle High School, won the Statewide Youth Leadership Award at Kick Butts Day at the State House for her dedication to Holbrook’s Chapter of The 84 Movement, an organization dedicated to preventing tobacco use by young people. She also received official citations from the Senate and the House of Representatives commemorating her accomplishments.

When asked about receiving the award she said, “I was absolutely blown away. I never really expected to win – it kind of felt like a dream. I just hope sharing my experience helped other people. I wanted my speech to show people that they don’t have to fit in a certain box to make a difference, they just have to be themselves.”  

Holbrook’s Chapter of The 84 Movement has dedicated their year to flavored tobacco restriction, on both a local and a statewide level. On May 2nd, students attended Kick Butts Day (KBD), an event that empowers youth to stand up against the tobacco and vaping industries. While the percent of youth that use traditional cigarettes has decreased significantly, e-cigarettes have become a major problem among youth. KBD calls attention to this problem and gives young people the platform to tackle it.

The event started with a trivia game about The 84 and youth tobacco use. Students had the chance to win “swag” such as water bottles, hats, and sunglasses. Following that, the youth marched through Boston Commons shouting chants like “Strawberry, Peach, Mango, e-cigarettes have got to go!” Their signs had sayings like “Tobacco should NOT be cheaper than chips,” calling attention to the fact that flavored cigars can cost as little as 99 cents.

At the State House, there was a training on legislative visits led by members of the Statewide Leadership Team, including three Holbrook students – Sarah Ryan, Rachel Cohan and Hayli Manning. During the training, students learned how to speak with legislators in a professional setting. Later, Holbrook met with three legislative aides to talk about e-cigarettes and how harmful they are for youth.

When asked about the event, Rachel Cohan said that Kick Butts Day was a “huge success.” She adds, “I think that it provided a fantastic opportunity for youth to let their voices be heard by our changemakers.”

The event ended with an award ceremony. Holbrook was nominated for the Local Community Change Award for our recent local policy work.