Sault Tribe Health Educator Colin Welker Completes National Anti-Tobacco Truth Initiative Fellowship
October 19, 2016
SAULT STE. MARIE, Michigan (October 2016) – Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians health educator, Colin Welker, has received national recognition for his efforts to prevent commercial tobacco use among youth in the Upper Peninsula. Welker was one of just 30 young adults from a pool of more than 750 applicants nationwide to receive a fellowship with Truth Initiative, the largest and most effective non-profit organization in America dedicated to eliminating tobacco use among the nation’s youth.
As a Truth Initiative fellow, Welker worked with nationally renowned public health experts, honing his skills as a leader and community activist while receiving training on regulatory policy, media relations and communications.
Upon his return from a trip to Washington, D.C., Welker met with the offices of Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, as well as U.S. Representative Dan Benishek, to increase awareness of youth smoking issues. Though he promotes a tobacco-free lifestyle for all ages, he’s most passionate about working with minority youth because of their vulnerability. “At-risk populations cannot protect themselves against the one-billion-dollar tobacco industry,” he said. “Youth are inundated with advertising messages. I want to empower them to make smarter decisions.”
In addition to completing a very prestigious fellowship, Welker has positively impacted his community in many ways. In just a few years, he’s influenced local tobacco policy change and provided leadership training to local youth so they can advocate among their peers. He works with the Sault Tribe Nicotine Dependence Program, providing one-on-one counseling for tobacco cessation.
Two of Welker’s biggest achievements recently happened while serving on the Sault Tribe’s UP4Health team. The team worked closely with other Sault Tribe organizations to increase the number of non-smoking tribal housing units from 12 to 108, making 25 percent of tribal housing non-smoking. Additionally, all hotel rooms and the lobby at the Kewadin Shores Casino in St. Ignace were designated as smoke-free.
These local accomplishments have been recognized by Truth Initiative. While his fellowship is nearing its end, Welker has been asked to return, serving as a mentor to the next class of incoming fellows. It’s an honor and a testament to his passion as a health educator and community activist working towards the goal of creating a tobacco-free generation.
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