Schuylerville High School senior Naahomae “Mae” Hailu has been named the New York State Tobacco Control Program’s Youth Advocate of the Year. The award was announced Tuesday, Feb. 9 at a ceremony at the Legislative Office Building in Albany and presented by program director Dana Isabella.
Hailu is president of the Schuylerville High School Reality Check group, a program coordinated by Glens Falls Hospital’s Health Promotion Center through its Living TobaccoFree Initiative. Reality Check is a youth activism group that works to educate teens about the dangers of tobacco use and to promote tobacco-free communities.
“As a Reality Check member, I have the chance to change the world and protect future generations from the harmful effects of tobacco,” Hailu said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing movement.”
“Mae is informed, passionate and tireless when it comes to helping her peers and our community at large understand the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke,” said Heather LaSalvia, Reality Check Program Coordinator. “No matter the audience, she delivers her message clearly and convincingly. She is so deserving of this honor.”
Among Hailu’s many tobacco education efforts, she has made presentations to local town boards urging the establishment of tobacco-free parks; met with state legislators to discuss tobacco-related issues; spoken to elementary students about the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke; and staffed informational tables at health fairs and community events across the region. Hailu has also attended advocacy training at Colgate University, and helped lead a regional youth training session to educate Reality Check peers.