Grand Futures: Routt County youth with passion for social justice |

Grand Futures: Routt County youth with passion for social justice

Lindsey Simbeye/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition was selected by the Colorado School of Public Health, Center for Public Health Practice as one of 20 youth-serving organizations and schools across the state who will host youth coalitions as part of the Statewide Social Justice Youth Tobacco Control Movement.

The local youth coalition — which will be led in partnership with Lindsay Kohler, school social worker at Hayden Secondary School, and Susan Petersen, the Communities That Care facilitator through Northwest Colorado Health — is currently recruiting youth, age 12 to 24, who want to affect change in Routt County.

Social justice is applied to this youth movement in three main ways. First, youth examine individual experiences with institutional causes of power, privilege and oppression. Next, youth learn the ways in which tobacco and nicotine are social justice issues. Finally, youth take a social justice approach to tobacco by investigating root causes and contesting unjust policies that have contributed to inequitable burden of tobacco and nicotine use, addiction, disease and mortality.

“This is an incredible learning opportunity for local youth to be very hands on and have their voices heard,” said Kohler. “By participating in the program, students will take action locally as part of a statewide youth-driven movement. It’s a chance to become part of a diverse group of youth leaders who understand tobacco is a social justice issue.”

Each coalition is made up of six to 12 youth  — age 12 to 24 — who meet at least monthly. These leaders will take action to contest the unjust policies and systems that have contributed to youth tobacco use and addiction. Participating youth learn how to identify an issue, brainstorm solutions, engage partners, mobilize the community and enact change. The movement is committed to empowering youth to find their voice and realize their abilities to create change. In addition to skill-building opportunities, youth will be compensated based on their level of involvement.

“This statewide movement dovetails perfectly with Grand Futures approach to substance abuse prevention,” said Lindsey Simbeye, executive director for Grand Futures. “Prevention is not about telling people ‘no.’ It’s about empowering young people, through skill-building programs, to advocate for themselves, their friends and family members, so together we can affect change throughout the community.”

For more information and to learn how you can become part of the youth social justice coalition in Routt County, contact Kohler at 970-276-3761, Petersen at 970-846-5324, or Simbeye at

Lindsey Simbeye is the executive director of the Grand Futures Prevention Coalition.

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