Area students invited to participate in upcoming TNSTRONG Conference

Published 9:54 am Friday, June 30, 2017

While there may be a change in venues, the mission stays the same for young residents across the state.

The 2017 TNSTRONG Conference, previously known as the FACT Summit, will be taking place August 12 at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Last year, the FACT Summit was the state’s first-ever youth tobacco prevention conference in Sevierville and featured more than 400 teens from 50 Tennessee counties.

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“It was a great experience,” said Jilian Reece, director of Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition and ushered down the first group of Carter County kids down to the conference.

Reece added the state split up the conference into three separate regions, to better serve each portion of the state. East Tennessee’s, which is being held in Knoxville, along with others were subtly titled “TNSTRONG” (Tennessee Stop Tobacco and Revolutionize Our New Generation) after students had the chance to pick out the name for the conference.

During the event, students have opportunities to share their experiences and promote guidance to others to help with tobacco cessation.

With the support of the Tennessee Department of Health, Teen Ambassadors were elected to lead the TNSRONG movement. County resident Pate Anglin was selected last year to serve as an ambassador for the state.

The initiative locally is spearheaded by the Carter County Health Department. Kelli Humphreys, tobacco educator at the department, alluded to the fact that opportunities are available for any youth that want to take part in helping the community.

“The state pays for the conference and lodging,” she said. “I’m almost certain the only cost families would have would be for the trip down.”

Humphreys added that six of last year’s participants are expected to make the trip once again, while a host of new children have already pledge their support for the conference.

Since their trip to the FACT, area youth have been working together to help with tobacco cessation. Students have worked alongside various agencies to pass out pledges, create signs and work different events to spread the message that tobacco usage is not the answer.

CCDP, which is the home of the county Teen Board, is also putting the final touches on a retail assessment of different stores in the county that sell tobacco products. The assessment is a way to gauge if stores are making tobacco products attractive enough for children wanting to use them.

Registration for the conference is expected to open soon. Individuals can contact Humphreys via email at to learn more about the conference and get registered.