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Article and photo by Jared Story
Jobelle Borja is
taking a stand, and it’s taking her to the nation’s capital.
The Grade 12
Sisler High School student is the leader of STAND (Sisler Teens Against
Nicotine and Drugs). Borja will be in Ottawa from Feb. 2 to 4 contributing to
the Youth Leadership Team, a Health Canada initiative that brings young people
together to discuss the topic of tobacco control.
surrounding myself with students and we’ll be talking to some government
officials and different people who’re interested (in tobacco control), finding
ways to connect to youth, just trying to pitch ideas and help out,” Borja said.
Borja joined STAND
while she was in Grade 10. As leader of the student group, Borja is responsible
uniting approximately 20 of her fellow Sisler students in the fight against
“I know a couple
people who have been addicted to smoking, and it’s just something I’m really
passionate about,” said Borja, who is also a member of Sisler Political Youth
“I present to
younger students about tobacco prevention. I witnessed a presentation myself
when I was in middle school, and it really inspired me to just spread the word
and prevent other kids from being addicted.”
Earlier in the
school year, STAND spoke to middle school students at École Stanley Knowles
School; the group plans to speak to more youth during an upcoming engagement at
Tyndall Park Community School.
Greg Shedden oversees STAND, along with a plethora of other student groups at
Sisler. He said he put Borja in charge of the crusade against cigarettes
because she’s a natural leader.
“I recognized in
Jobelle the kinds of skills necessary to become the new leader. It’s a
combination of intelligence, charisma and purpose, somebody who understands
this is something that’s important and who takes it seriously,” Shedden said.
“I’ve coached her
and watched her grow in the role. When she first took over there were three
members in STAND. It was a group that was struggling to maintain itself and now
we’re upwards of 20 members. There is a new energy to the group.”