By Brittney Parks
Do you fight back?
Victoria B.C.’s 19 year-old Adele Green has been fighting back against cancer and fighting for the future of youth for the past six years. As a Grade 9 student at Oak Bay High School in Victoria, Adele became a member of the Youth Against Cancer club. In Grade 11 and 12 as the club chair, she got involved with the Canadian Cancer Society B.C. & Yukon, as a fundraiser, an educator and an advocate.
Currently in her secondary year of studies in the School of Health Information Sciences at the University of Victoria (UVIC), Adele is still fight back against cancer. Youth Against Cancer is now a UVIC club with over 130 members, fundraising on campus and partnering with on-campus events, supporting with their volunteer force and adding prevention and awareness.
Adele was one of the youth that played an instrumental role in the passing of the Capital Regional District’s Tanning Regulation Bylaw (No. 3711).
Adele shared her experience as a youth advocate with me.
Youth Against Cancer
How did you get involved with advocacy?
In my last few months in Grade 12, Youth Against Cancer ended up doing a few information sessions on indoor tanning at my high school and it moved into the start of the Capital Regional District public consultations about indoor tanning. Nancy (Health Promotion Coordinator with the Society) had us come out to them and ever since then we have been involved in the whole process.
Why is advocacy important to you?
Last year was really a learning year for me as a university student. I had the opportunity to learn about the impacts of policy and advocacy fit really well into what I was studying. Advocacy allowed me to see the results of what I was putting in through volunteering.
What are some characteristics that youth should have if they want to take on the challenge of advocacy?
At first it was hard to stand up for what you believe in. When you hear the other side you start to doubt yourself, so having self-confidence is important. Also, having the ability to stick up to your friends about the issue is important. It is my age group that we are trying to influence. You may have to stick up to your friends that use indoor tanning equipment. Definitely not backing down was our motto – we weren’t backing down and we were standing up for what we believe in.
What do you hope will come out of the current advocacy work you are doing, supporting legislation prohibiting the use of indoor tanning for those under 18?
The whole idea that I try to push throughout the movement is a generational change – changing the idea that my age group needs to be tanned. The health risk factor isn’t in the mind of anyone. But looking ahead, my sister is eight years-old and I have already ingrained it in her mind that she doesn’t need to tan and when she gets to be my age the accessibility of indoor tanning won’t be there.
What message would you like to send to the Minister of Health and the Government of BC?
The changes we are making now aren’t only directing today’s youth, it is changing the frame of mind for future generations.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other youth that would like to get involved in advocacy?
You have to find that passion and motivation that will make you want to work hard for it and not give up — and finding your individual message that you want to send out. I know that at the beginning I kept going back to the stats and science. But as youth that isn’t really our position – we aren’t doctors or scientists. You have to find something you truly believe in and run with it.
If you would like to join the fight and be an advocate contact us at email@example.com or send a letter to your MLA in support of legislation.
Taking a stand at the Capital Regional District public hearings
Canadian Cancer Society Volunteer Advocates Jessica Wong, Adele Green, Stephanie Wong and Carli Swift