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Taking a STAND against smoking

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.

“I’ll be 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 smoking.

“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 (SPY).

“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.

Sisler teacher 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.”

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