REALITY Illinois is an in-your-face, stand-up-and-shout, not-taking-it-anymore anti-tobacco movement created by and for Illinois teens. Funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health and local health department, REALITY Illinois is spreading the word about tobacco industry manipulation, second-hand smoke and tobacco use to everyone in the state.

In the past, local Reality teens planned, promoted and implemented special events for Kick Butts Day in March and the Great American Smoke Out in November. The events included​ a media advocacy initiative and counter-marketing effort.

Engaging Youth for Positive Change (EYPC) is a transformative process empowering young people to work with local governing bodies to adopt policies that create healthier communities. Targeted to youth ages 13-18, trained facilitators guide youth to identify the change they desire, learn about the workings of local governing bodies, engage friends, neighbors, and business leaders in their efforts, and communicate with elected officials to create change.

Each REALITY group completes the EYPC curriculum throughout their meeting term.

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2018 Kane County REALITY Group

Lao Youth Leaders (LYL) is a group of aspiring leaders who are committed on serving our communities. LYL is focused on developing leadership skills and providing academic resources for the youth of the Lao community.

Education is the foundation of success and through community involvement, skills workshops, and public service, Lao Youth Leaders strives to develop a sense of commitment and passion to changing the world for future generations. LYL seek to connect youth from all different backgrounds of life to form a sense of unity in achieving common goals to support and grow our communities. It is a program created and developed through the Lao-American Organization of Elgin, a non-profit organization.​

For more information, please visit, and

2017 Kane County REALITY Group

The DREAM Academy is an alternative educational program at School District U-46. The purpose of the new setting is to give students an educational option to maximize their individual potential.

The DREAM Academy provides a small school environment, featuring smaller class sizes in a structured setting with a student-centered curriculum. The average class size will range between 18-20 students per class. Semester classes with a blended curriculum include small group instruction and online curriculum.

Students must be referred to the DREAM Academy from the comprehensive schools in the District. Students are selected to The DREAM Academy for a variety of reasons, such as: social, emotional, and academic reasons that have made it difficult for them to learn in the traditional school environment.

The EYPC Curriculum was included within the DREAM Academy health class. Students researched the benefits of raising on raising the legal sale age of tobacco from 18 to 21 for the City of Elgin. For more information on this topic visit our Tobacco21 page.

2016 Kane County REALITY Group

Greater Fox River Valley Operation Snowball (GFRVOS)
is a community based alcohol, tobacco and other drug use prevention program focusing on leadership development to empower youth to lead drug free lives based in Geneva, IL.

The name originates from the idea that "If I can have a positive impact on you, you can have a positive impact on someone else and the effect snowballs." Out of this concept emerges "A Community of Caring" – the success of Operation Snowball.

Operation Snowball seeks to bring together high school youth and caring adults to develop a trusting relationship. It is founded on the belief that youth and adults can make responsible decisions when provided with factual information and an opportunity to develop an understanding of one's self and others.

GFRVOS worked on a tobacco free parks.

2015 Kane County REALITY Groups

Bridging the Gap is an educational community-based, workforce development program that helps the residents of the City of Aurora, Illinois develop a sense of future, commitment to the community, self-confidence, life-long learning skills and career skills. Illinois develop a sense of future, commitment to the community, self-confidence, life-long learning skills and career skills.rora, Illinois develop a sense of future, commitment to the community, self-confidence, life-long learning skills and career skills. Bridging the Gap chose to focus on strengthening an existing policy.

A policy that prohibits electronic cigarettes use on school grounds currently exists, but the students believe the enforcement is lacking. By strengthening this current policy, the students believe they can reduce electronic cigarette use among students.

Pictured: Snowball hug circle

STC underground teens following their introduction to the St. Charles Park District Board on February 10, 2014

The STC Underground is a unique place for teens to “hang out”, socialize, play games, surf the internet, watch TV, do homework, and much more. Open to all Middle School & High School teens, including parochial schools and home schooled students who reside within St. Charles School District boundaries.

7 teens from the STC Underground Teen Center were recruited to join Kane County’s REALITY group to promote smoke-free parks for the city of St. Charles. The group interactively learned about the benefits of smoke-free parks while learning the skills needed to pass an ordinance. STC Underground teens released a community survey to gauge support for this initiative. Upon the survey closing, 116 were completed with strong support for a smoke-free parks ordinance. The teens presented the survey results at the St. Charles Park District Board meeting April 28, 2015.

Pictured: STC underground teens following their introduction to the St. Charles Park District Board on February 10, 2014

The Youth Leadership Academy - YLA meets twice a month on Saturdays to teach youth the leadership skills they’ll need as adults. By staying in the program from 7th grade through the 12th grade, the participants receive a scholarship to attend Elgin Community College.

YLA teens chose to spend their time working towards a smoke-free parks ordinance for the city of Elgin. Following the completion of the EYPC curriculum, YLA presented their initiative in front of the Elgin City Council on Kick Butts Day-March 18th, 2015.

Following the presentation, a draft ordinance for smoke-free parks was requested by a council member!!

Pictured: YLA members Photo credit: Rick West, Daily Herald