West Valley youth to receive regional advocate award

West Valley Reality Check member Ken Dash will receive the third annual NYS Western Region Youth Advocate of the Year Award today.

Dash was nominated by Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties’ Reality Check coordinators Sam Vanstrom and Jon Chaffee for his contributions to his community and his efforts to help educate youth and adults about how tobacco companies target young people as replacement smokers.

Dash has been active with Reality Check for almost two years. In that time, he’s attended several regional and statewide youth conferences, helped lead the West Valley SADD/Reality Check afterschool program, participated in local cigarette butt cleanups and community education events, and presented to several local municipal boards. He is also active with the ski club and his youth group.

He is being honored as a big brother, peer leader and community advocate.

“Ken is a very well spoken, caring young man. I am so glad our statewide Reality Check program has decided to give him this award,” said Sam Vanstrom, Senior Program Coordinator for Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties’ Reality Check.

The Youth Advocate of the Year Award will be given out at a press conference today in Albany as part of the program’s Legislative Day activities. Although Dash will not be able to attend, Jon Chaffee and Daniel Merriam, a Reality Check member from Fillmore, will be representing the area. They will accept the award for Dash and meet with local elected officials.

Reality Check is the youth action program within the Bureau of Tobacco Control. Its mission is to expose the deceptive tactics Big Tobacco uses to target youth as replacement smokers, especially through retail marketing and tobacco depictions in media. More information can be found at www.realitycheckofny.com