On September 29th, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids hosted its annual Youth Advocates of the Year Awards. The virtual gala honored young advocates in the fight against tobacco and celebrated the impact of youth advocates over the past 25 years. This year’s honorees, who come from all over the United States, are leaders in their communities and demonstrate the power young people have in the movement to build a healthier world.

The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) is proud to be part of the continuing legacy of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. GHAI draws on 25 years of experience and applies it to pressing public health issues in low- and middle-income countries. We work with civil society organizations all over the world to advance lifesaving, sustainable public health policies.

Youth engagement is an important and rapidly growing component of the work GHAI’s local partners take on. For health advocacy to be impactful and sustainable, incorporating young people’s needs and priorities is vital. Young people have the power to generate awareness on important issues to change the environments we live in, and they bring a fresh vision and new perspectives into the public dialogue.

This year’s Youth Advocates of the Year award recipients come from diverse advocacy backgrounds. Some focus on raising awareness in their communities while others work closely with legislators at the local and state level. All strategies, however, are an essential part of creating a healthier future for young people in their communities, the United States and around the world. Ms. Heran Borta, Director General of the Ethiopian Food and Drug Authority, received the Judy Wilkenfeld Award for International Tobacco Control Excellence for her commitment to tobacco control in Ethiopia. Ms. Borta has demonstrated a passion for protecting Ethiopian kids from the deadly impact of tobacco use and has fought vigorously for strong tobacco control policies despite fierce tobacco industry interference. Other award recipients and their stories can be found here.

We look forward to building on the youth advocacy legacy created by our Youth Advocates of the Year as Tobacco-Free Kids and GHAI continue to take on the tobacco industry and the toughest fights in public health over the next 25 years and beyond.

Watch the 2021 Youth Advocate of the Year Awards here.

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