Students leaders from Clinton’s high school and middle school rolled out a campaign to educate peers on the dangers of using vape products - with a spin. Instead of focusing on how many students vape, the students decided to spotlight their peers who choose not to use substances. “We have always chosen to shine the light on the positives, to give more attention to the kids making good, healthy choices. We want there to be visible role models for students who want to remain healthy,” explained Kelley Edwards who advises the students in her role as coordinator of Clinton’s Partners in Community coalition. Here’s how the members of REACT engaged their peers and spread their messages:
Before creating the campaign, members of REACT in grades eight to 12 reached out to their peers to get their take on how vaping was impacting their lives. Students across the board were frustrated that vaping had become so prevalent in their school community, even saying that they avoided the school bathrooms because they were used by students to vape between classes. REACT members and their peers wanted to show the community that they were tired of the vaping and wanted to give an outlet to those not using. They decided on the name “End the Trend” for their campaign because they wanted to remind fellow students “not be guinea pigs to the vape industry, and to ‘end the trend’ of use,” said Edwards. “The campaign gave them a platform to say “enough!” without having to directly confront their peers.”
Let students take the lead
It was important to Edwards and REACT members that youth were given accurate information about the dangers of vaping, instead of the mistruths spread online. In partnership with the high- and middle schools, a group of 14 eight grade REACT members and two high school student assistants were trained on the dangers and health risks of vaping. Armed with that knowledge, teams of 8th graders developed their own lesson plans to present to their classes. “They delivered the facts in a variety of ways: Tik Toks, original videos, a Jeopardy game, a true-false game complete with paddles for every class member, a powerpoint, and an agree/disagree line up. The students were creative based upon their interests and comfort levels!”, Edwards explained. Once the students presented their material, they would then lead the class in a conversation about vaping. These lessons were student-led, with guidance from the health teacher and coalition staff, which Edwards credits as having a major impact on students.
The End the Trend campaign was colorful and bold and it got the attention of students by featuring their peers as role models. REACT members worked hard to spread the message inside their schools and beyond. They wore bright t-shirts with the slogan and decorated bulletin boards and bathroom stalls to keep the campaign visible during school. They also came up with unique ideas for handing out freebies with their message imprinted, like raffling off t-shirts to students who completed a four-question survey. They also passed out lip balms with a quit vaping hotline number on them, as well as stickers and The message didn’t stop inside the walls of the school; they shared their message in town with a billboard on Route 1. The most important statement the campaign made, however, was by featuring students who choose not to use substances as role models. Their honesty and bravery had an impact on their peers and gave many the courage to stand up and say “enough”!
Interested in replicating this initiative? Check out more of the students’ End the Trend campaign on Facebook or reach out to Kelley Edwards (email@example.com)