The Youth Tobacco Education, Advocacy, and Media (T.E.A.M.) is a program of Youth Empowerment in Action. The pilot program was launched in December 2007 for the Spring semester. The first part of the program consisted of 20 schools across southeastern Missouri.  

About the Program

“3000 children become regular smokers every day!! More the 6.4 million children living today will die an early tobacco related death.”

Who we are: The Youth Empowerment and Action Project (YEA) is funded by the State of Missouri, Department of Health and Senior Services. This Project is a component of the University of Missouri’s College of Education, in the Center for Character and Citizenship; situated on the St Louis campus.

What is the project: Tobacco prevention and how media influences youth. The goal of this project is to empower youth to be active in their community, making informed decisions on how the media markets to them as “replacement smokers”. Youth will choose a message in response to the issue, create a slogan, and produce a media presentation that will let their voice be heard.

When: The selection of groups begins immediately [January 2008] and training will commence the second week of February. The production of the projects and their campaign slogan will continue through March and April. Media placement will be in May, ending with a project showcase.

Where the project is: Of the 115 Counties in the State of Missouri, eight stand out as having the highest concentration of smokers. YEA will target the schools in those Counties [Dunklin, Iron, Pemiscot, New Madrid, Stoddard, Wayne, Livingston, and Linn] whose youth may be at higher risk, but will look in other needy areas as well. There will be 20 groups who participate in the project, and each will select a topic and media project of their choice.

What: This project allows youth to make decisions about the issues facing them where they live. Thus the youth choose an issue (tobacco or other health related issue), and develop an action plan to positively change it through a media project. Projects can range anywhere from videos, public service announcements, posters, letter to the editor campaign, getting a new ordinance passed, rap song or other music presentation, legislature visit, presentation to the Board of Education, or whatever they see as a media event that impacts the identified concern or problem in their area. Once the group selects their project, there will be support offered to produce and place their product. Professional video assistance, music production, public service announcements and other resources will be given to the school. A Media kit with examples and “how tos” will be provided as well as t shirts, arm bands, and awards to youth. There will also be a monetary award of $1,000 to each school for their participation.

How: YEA’s mission is to encourage and empower youth to make healthy choices and decisions through media literacy education and hands-on production experience. The media literacy experience will take the group through the many faces of advertising, specifically looking at what is in their community, and then producing their own message: Who created the media messages? What got my attention? How might people understand this ad? What point of view is represented or omitted? Why was it sent? What do they want? From these answers, the group will move from an understanding of the messages to civic action!

Web sites: Go to to view a 3 minute clip of ‘Project Citizen’ done in St. Louis. Click on the video of two young women with t-shirts that say YEA! Also please look at which is our Youth Empowerment web site. Click on the media tab and look at all the activities that are available for you and your students.

Awareness > Analysis > Action
Why: Teaching youth to think critically will give them a voice in their community and allow them to be active in civic matters. Learning to be an active citizen gives youth the opportunity to make responsible choices, and make positive and healthy decisions throughout their life.