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Lufkin High School Junior honored with prestigious statewide award

Maddie Howard, a junior at Lufkin High School, has been named a Teen Ambassador by the Texas SayWhat! program. SayWhat! stands for Students, Adults, and Youth Working Hard Against Tobacco. This year there were eleven “TAs” selected across Texas, but each year that number varies.

A SayWhat! Teen Ambassador is instrumental in spreading e-cigarette prevention and tobacco-free messages to youth across the state. In the spring Howard will travel to certain sites in Texas and lead activities and teach about the harms of various aspects of tobacco and e-cigarettes at different summits. If travel is still restricted across the state because of the coronavirus Howard will help lead those summits virtually. The big challenge awaits next summer when Howard and her fellow “TAs” will lead the state conference.

“When I first heard the news I wanted to cry because I was so excited,” Howard said. “I had tried out two years ago and didn’t make it, so with this being my last year to apply I was very happy to hear that I made it.”

Howard first became a part of the SayWhat! program through The Coalition in Lufkin after seventh grade. As a freshman, Howard was part of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Texas 21 Youth Ambassadors who educated and advocated for the legal age to be raised to 21. She has also helped with the SayWhat! group at Lufkin High School and has been vocal about the amount of youth she sees using JUUL and other e-cigarette devices.

“Maddie is an impressive young woman who is not only passionate about being the youth voice for tobacco prevention in her school and community, but is dedicated to being a servant for health and happiness for her peers and her country,” said Kathleen Bates with the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University. “Her self-confidence to lead as well as her humble nature towards her accomplishments stood out the most to us. Not only is Maddie a strong addition to the Say What! Teen Ambassador program, but she will spark growth amongst her fellow Teen Ambassadors and for the program itself.”

Howard joins Kadie Beth Wisener, Kellen Kruk and Rozalinn Runnels as the only youth from The Coalition’s service area to be selected as a Teen Ambassador since 2014. Howard began her term as Teen Ambassador on September 1, 2020 and will end her term on August 31st, 2021.

“I am looking forward to being able to meet all of the new TA’s as well as getting to see the ones returning,” Howard said. “And I am ready to start working.”

Maddie Howard of Lufkin High School (L) at the 2018 SayWhat! Summer Conference, along with her sister Channing Howard, Patrick Harvey, and Hayden Reed. Maddie has been named one of eleven Teen Ambasadors by Texas SayWhat! (Students, Adults, and Youth Working Hard Against Tobacco).

Maddie Howard of Lufkin High School with her dog Dipper. The junior was recently honored as a Teen Ambassador by Texas SayWhat! (Students Adults and Youth Working Hard Against Tobacco). She will spread the e-cigarette and tobacco-free lifestyle across Texas and lead activities at her school.

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