Washougal students educate peers about the dangers of vaping

Bobby Walker works with students
ESD 112 Prevention and Intervention Coordinator Bobby Walker worked with Washougal middle school students to create videos about the dangers of vaping.

Students at Canyon Creek and Jemtegaard Middle Schools in Washougal have stepped up recently to help educate their peers to the dangers of vaping by scripting and creating their very own public service announcements.  The completed short videos will be seen during morning announcements at each school.

Leading these projects are Wendy Butler, Student Assistance Counselor, and Bobby Walker, Tobacco Prevention Coorinator, both from Educational Service District 112.

At CCMS when asked what motivated these students to participate in the project, many responded that they have family members who are addicted to nicotine and their smoking or vaping habit started when those individuals were young.

“We cannot actually show vaping in the video so the students chose to focus on the point of decision that one student is making whether or not to try vaping that first time,” Walker said.

In script planning at CCMS, the rapid fire creative process resulted in the idea of having a single person suggesting they are going to try vaping and inviting others to participate.  One student considers it but asks if it is safe.  The remaining students then share their knowledge around the dangers.  “We should not be super dramatic but just stick with the facts,” pointed out one student contributor.  “Scaring people does not work.”

The facts came easily to this group and it was clear they were already well aware of them.  Nicotine slows down brain development and nicotine is more additive to younger people were among the ideas they want to get across to their peers.

“It is so important to get rid of the myths around vaping,” said Butler.  “I hear kids say all the time that smoking is bad for you, but vaping is ok.  That is just not correct.”

In the end the students portrayed in the video agree not to try vaping and move on to a healthy fun activity to do together.  Keeping conversations positive is a big part of Butler’s focus.  “We ask students to think about what their natural high is?  What do they enjoy doing that they would not want to give up for smoking.”

The PSA project is more than just creating a message to discourage vaping, but also a chance for students to work together on a fun project to instill community, be positive, and raise each other up to feel good.

“We are hoping this work helps to build a foundation of facts and interpersonal skills to use peer pressure in a positive way and to recognize it when it is used negatively,” said Butler.