News and Events

DeSoto County SWAT Chapter Continues to Combat Tobacco Amidst the Pandemic
September 11, 2020

It is no doubt that we are living in odd times and this school year will certainly have its challenges, however, despite the many obstacles our students and staff will face this year, the DeSoto County SWAT Chapter continues to push forward and combat Big Tobacco.

SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) is Florida's statewide youth organization working to mobilize, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco. SWAT is a united movement of empowered youth working towards a tobacco free future. These youth work to change the social norms associated with tobacco, as well as change the way people think about tobacco… making it less desirable, less acceptable, and less accessible.

DeSoto SWAT Youth members are passionate about educating their peers on the dangers associated with tobacco use, combating the nationwide ENDS epidemic, as well as advocating for change in local policies. In fact, our local SWAT youth have played a significant role in gaining policy change in DeSoto County. They helped gain a Tobacco Free Parks Policy from The City of Arcadia and a Smoke Free Policy at the Mosaic Rodeo Arena. They have also educated and presented to community leaders on many occasions to help strengthen policies and regulations in DeSoto County.

We currently have 3 SWAT clubs in DeSoto County. One club at DeSoto County High School, one club at DeSoto Middle School, and one club at The Louis and Gloria Flanzer Boys and Girls Club.

Our DHS SWAT Club is our longest running club and these youth have played a big role in combatting tobacco use in our community. Our DHS SWAT Club is overseen by Mr. Kornell. He has been an advocate against drugs, alcohol and tobacco use for years. For the past 6 years he has been the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club sponsor. He is driven to pass leadership skills to his students, teaching and leading others in making better educated decisions, and we are honored to have him serve in the advisory role of SWAT at Desoto County High School

A few years ago we were able to branch out and enter DeSoto Middle School as well. This club has really taken off over the past few years and we have thoroughly enjoyed watching our middle schoolers blossom into youth advocates. Mr. Fanning will be joining us again this year as the advisor of the middle school club. She worked for several years as a career coach for at risk youth in Charlotte County. She enjoys working with kids, especially those that need some extra support and confidence, and we know that she will continue to do an amazing job encouraging our middle school SWAT youth to advocate for their health.

In addition to DHS and DMS, in January 2020 we were able to partner with the Boys and Girls Club to implement a SWAT Club at their new Louis & Gloria Flanzer Facility. We love what this organization does for the youth in our community and it has been an absolute pleasure working with them. They are currently undergoing a huge expansion, and we know great things are in store for the LGF SWAT Club. Sofia Gilot is the Club Director. She has a deep passion for building confidence, belief, and leadership in these youth as she was once a participant in the Boys & Girls Club herself. We are beyond excited to see the impact she will play on the youth of DeSoto County.      

Lastly, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank DeSoto County School Board and The Louis and Gloria Flanzer Boys and Girls Club for their comprehensive tobacco free policies, partnership, and allowing our youth to stand up for their health by hosting our SWAT program. We are extremely proud of the growth we have seen in our DeSoto SWAT Chapter over the years and we cannot wait to see what our clubs accomplish moving forward.  

For more information on SWAT, please contact your club’s advisor or visit You can also follow us on Instagram at @swatflorida.