How to Write a Testimony

Recently I have fallen in love with being involved in the government. Whether in the local, state, or national level you all can have an impact! I encourage all of you to become involved and speak on what you are passionate about. After I testified on behalf of American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network on the SB 1106/ Tobacco 21 I have been asked about my experience as a whole and how someone should go about writing a testimony.

The experience went great, however be prepared to walk into a very serious and professional atmosphere. Make sure to dress nicely, I choose a black business suit and red top. I wanted to show that even though I was just 18, I showed a valuable perspective. If you are talking about highly controversial issue be prepared to only have a short amount of time to speak due to both sides having a large amount of speakers. You will be asked to keep your testimony anywhere from 3-5 minutes in these cases. 

A very important part of testifying in my opinion is sharing your personal connection or experience. I also believe you should speak from the heart. This means I recommend creating an outline highlighting the key parts of your testimony rather than writing a full. Here is a sample outline of my testimony I did in front of the Senate:

SB 1106- Tobacco 21 Testimony Information
Senate State Affairs - March 3rd, 2017

Garin Harris- Miss Teen International 2016

Giving the Youth Perspective
  • Inconsistency of age for alcohol vs tobacco - alcohol age moved up to prevent alcohol related accidents 
  • Personal Experience of Exposure During High School 
  • E-cigarette use in teens (3x more likely to progress to tobacco)
Plan of Action-

Introduce Self - Name, Age, Where I Live , Title

Involvement in Advocating for Health Issues Especially Youth-
  • Run my own program for chronic pain patients called Dancing Through the Pain 
  • I am an National Ambassador and spokesperson for U.S. Pain Foundation as well as the American Heart Association 
Importance of Public Policy in Youth Health-
  • Ultimately it is up to you to make the healthy choice the easy choice. 
  • AHA is an organization based completely on science. It has been proven that if you are not addicted to tobacco products before the age of 21 the most likely you will not be. 
  • There is an inconsistency between the alcohol age limit vs the tobacco age limit alcohol being 21 and tobacco of course 18
  • The alcohol age was pushed up to minimize the cause of alcohol related car accidents and deaths. Over the years this has succeeded 
  • Tobacco is a cause of countless deaths, though typically the effects of tobacco are seen later in life we are seeing the age group affected grow 
  • Now young adults as early as age 19/20 are experiencing heart problems some even as severe as a heart attack
  • Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women 
School Experience-
  • I was young for my grade during my high-school years however by the time Jr/Sr year rolled around most of my classmates were 18 years old 
  • I could not begin to tell you the amount of times I was offered a variety of tobacco products 
  • I can also not begin to tell you how many teens used e-cigarettes and would consistently tell me that they were better for them because they were not actual cigarettes 
  • Teens who use e-cigarettes are 3x more likely to progress into tobacco usage/addiction 
  • AHA, ACS CAN, and ALA have all been focusing on the issue of tobacco in your youth 
  • Officers are finding kids as young as 10 with tobacco/ vape related products on them
  • Also 18-19 year old special education students are also being targeted and taken advantage of by younger students persuading them to buy tobacco products for them
  • As a future Social Worker that will cause major issues for all parties involved in that situation 
  • With 25% of high schoolers using vape products this calls for major concerns of them turning to tobacco in the future
I hope this helps all of you to use your voice to speak on what you believe in.

“Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds”

- Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016


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