Students on the DREAM Team at Chief Umtuch Middle School in Battle Ground had a chance to meet state legislators in Olympia on March 6 as they discussed topics impacting students across the state.
One of the topics the students focused on was a bill, which if passed, would provide free meals to public schools at the start of the 2023-24 school year if at least 30% of kindergarten through fourth graders qualify for free or reduced meals.
“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,” stated a news release from the Battle Ground Prevention Alliance.
Another subject the DREAM Team students discussed was funding the Tobacco and Vapor Product Prevention & Control Program. They shared what they have witnessed within their school in relation to tobacco products, and especially e-cigarettes, with legislators. They noted prevention and cessation programs are crucial for the well-being of students and to prevent an addiction to the products.
“The legislators really do listen to what they have to say,” Jennifer Kirby, the program coordinator for Prevent Together, stated in the release. “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 the youth drug and alcohol prevention categories, the team’s advocacy training and trips to Olympia are a part of their 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,” stated the release.
Chief Umtuch Middle School and the American Heart Association have developed a collaboration via the DREAM Team focused on heart health education, vaping prevention and chest compression CPR training that occurs annually as part of the American Heart Challenge awareness campaign.
The DREAM Team is the youth extension of the Battle Ground Prevention Alliance.
Their goal is to empower their peers to live drug-free lives, stated the release.
To find out more about the DREAM Team, go online to pre venttogetherbg.org/dreamteam.