Daily Point of Light # 2976 Jul 1, 2005

Choosing whether or not to smoke is one of the first choices a teen will make. Teens Against Tobacco Use (T.A.T.U.) is a nationally recognized organization and health campaign sponsored by the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society.

For the past five years, Stewart has been a spokesperson for the Teens Against Tobacco Use program in the North and Central Alabama areas. In 2002, the Huntsville City Board of Education received a $22,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health for tobacco free youth. This grant was made possible because of the work Stewart did with the T.A.T.U. program in the city of Huntsville.

Stewart has impressed many with her ability to reach out to teens. She realizes that tobacco use is not a popular topic of discussion among adults, however it is a main topic of discussion among teens. She shares her knowledge by speaking to students in elementary and middle schools. Stewart discusses with these students the peer pressure they will face in life and how to deal with it. However, the most important issue she speaks about is making the choice not to smoke. She has designed and continues to maintain an informational website, www.TATUonline.com, for others to access information pertaining to the T.A.T.U. campaign. On this website you will find everything from articles about smoking, to pictures from all of the schools that she has visited.

As a young person herself, Stewart has been able to reach younger children more effectively, serving as a role model for them. She also uses her commitment to be tobacco-free to encourage youth to make the healthy choice not to smoke. Stewart realizes that these teens are old enough to make their own decisions, however they are not old enough to understand the consequences and long term heath risks of these decisions. It is her desire that this anti-smoking campaign will help our youth believe in themselves, accept responsibility, and feel confident about the choices they will continue to make.

Stewart believes it is important to have a positive message that counteracts the negative influences that our youth are being exposed to today. Her message is simple, “Through my efforts, I hope to empower the youth of Alabama to make healthy life choices. I want them to understand that they do not have to smoke to be ‘cool’ or accepted.”

If you spend five minutes with Stewart, you will find that she is genuine and committed to making a difference in the lives of teens. Stewart embodies the qualities of a true role model. She is experienced, dedicated and has given over 1,500 hours of community service, while holding two jobs and being a full time student.