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Student honored for community service



Tech Valley High School senior James Hazzard is being recognized for his continued efforts to snuff out smoking among children.

Hazzard, who attends TVHS from Sharon Springs, is one of five youths from the region that will be honored for their work with the organization, Reality Check of New York State. The five will receive either a regional Youth Advocate of The Year Award or a state Youth Advocate of the Year Award at a ceremony March 15 in Albany.

The TVHS senior said he is proud to be recognized for his work because he truly supports the efforts of Reality Check.

"I support this organization because many of my friends are established smokers, and I was afraid that if I hang out with them, they could push me into smoking. With this organization I go to policymakers and I try to get petitions signed to get G, PG, PG-13 movies that have smoking in them reclassified into an 'R' rating," said Hazzard.

He also created a video for the organization portraying an every day student walking to and from school showing what they saw as they walked by the convenience stores.

"The concept of this video is to show what advertisements kids are exposed to during their walk to school. Not only are kids exposed by the exterior ads, but when they go in to buy drinks, chips, ice cream or gum…what they see is tobacco advertisements, tobacco displays with bright colors and cool logos that catch their eyes," Hazzard said.

"The ads are designed and marketed to brainwash youth into believing using tobacco products are fun and cool. What isn't shown is how the tobacco industry targets youth as replacement smokers," he said.

Hazzard has logged more than 200 hours of community service with the organization.

Reality Check is a 10-year-old organization consisting of teens who want to force tobacco companies to stop targeting teens and young adults. The organization is part of the state Department of Health Tobacco Control Program and works to deglamorize tobacco and tobacco use among children and young adults.


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