As leaders in youth drug and alcohol prevention, advocacy training and the field trip to Olympia are part of the DREAM Team’s regular activities each year
On March 6, students from the Chief Umtuch DREAM Team visited the Washington State Capitol in Olympia to meet with legislators to discuss important topics impacting students across Washington state.
Among key issues addressed by the students was a bill that, if passed, will provide free school meals to public schools with K-4 students where at least 30 percent students qualify for free or reduced price meals beginning with the 2023-24 school year.
The students discussed the importance of nutrition when it comes to academic performance and how equal access to meals would reduce stigma while also supporting families experiencing food insecurities, especially at a time when food prices remain extremely high.
The DREAM Team students also spoke to legislators about funding for the Tobacco and Vapor Product Prevention & Control Program. They shared what they are seeing in their schools with tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes, and how prevention and cessation programs are important in protecting Washington students from a lifetime of addiction to these harmful products.
“The legislators really do listen to what they [the kids] have to say,” said Jennifer Kirby, Program Coordinator for Prevent Together: Battle Ground Prevention Alliance who funded the field trip. “It’s more than an exercise in civic engagement, these students are learning that their voices really matter and that they can have an impact on the process even though they’re not old enough to vote.”
As leaders in youth drug and alcohol prevention, advocacy training and the field trip to Olympia are part of the DREAM Team’s regular activities each year. This year’s trip to Olympia, however, was extra special as the Team was invited to be guests of the American Heart Association as the only youth representatives at their annual policy day at the Capitol. The American Heart Association and Chief Umtuch Middle School have developed a special collaboration through the DREAM Team because of the heart health education, vaping prevention, and hands-only CPR training which happens each year as part of the school’s American Heart Challenge awareness campaign.
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