- Through education, empower high school students to make better choices about the health risks and addictive qualities of tobacco and cannabis.
- Prevent non smokers and prevent susceptible students from starting to use tobacco and cannabis.
- Provide a student “Train the Trainer” model for expanding the educational processes of de-normalizing tobacco and cannabis use, and build a support network.
- Empower youth to defend themselves from the onslaught of advertising and peer pressure.
- Develop youth leadership to assist and support students in making healthier choices.
S.W.A.T. stands for Manitoba Students Working Against Tobacco and for Cannabis Awareness. Manitoba SWAT is a grassroots student led approach that was founded in 2001 and developed for students by students. The foundation of this grassroots movement is in response to tobacco companies who actively recruit young people to become consumers of their products. To counter this we started the program by actively recruiting young people to become anti-tobacco activists in their communities and schools.
With the legalization of cannabis in October 2018, SWAT has expanded to include a focus on the harms related to cannabis use. Students that are actively involved as anti-tobacco control leaders in their schools and their communities, will also be educating other young people about the health risks associated with cannabis use. This peer-led model is interactive and highly effective in emphasizing student voice and engagement. It should be noted that this program is based on the cornerstones of tobacco and cannabis control ~ prevention and awareness.
Manitoba’s Provincial Tobacco Control Strategy focuses on preventing youth from starting to use tobacco products, as well as protecting non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke, and largely denormalizing tobacco use. In January 2009 the Minister of Healthy Living and Education announced the expansion of the SWAT program in the province based on the model created at the first SWAT team at West Kildonan Collegiate in Winnipeg. Establishing Manitoba SWAT teams in Manitoba schools is a key component of the Strategy and effectively supports the goals of education and prevention. Today there are various active Manitoba S.W.A.T. teams across the Province.
What does Manitoba S.W.A.T. do?
Manitoba SWAT is an interactive and highly effective model, which stresses student voice and engagement. The model is based on a “train the trainer model” with students presenting to students. Once trained, SWAT teams, made up of high school students, make interactive presentations to younger students in grades 5 – 8 about the health risks associated with tobacco and cannabis use and second hand smoke. Based on a non-judging strategy, the goal is to de-normalize smoking and vaping, and build a support network for students to support their efforts to stay smoke-free. SWAT gives presentations to hundreds of students every year. In addition, these presentations create a self-sustaining model as students who are exposed to SWAT in the middle years, often join the SWAT team when they transition to high school.
Presentations are about 45 minutes long and consist of various components including Cannabis Conversations, the Tar for Tots, Pig Lungs Performance, Emphysema Experience, Startling Stats, Frightful Phlegm, and Tobacco Trivia. The video below is a demonstration of the standard SWAT presentation.