After an unprecedented two years, our success story finds itself in the halls of our local middle and high schools.

As many local, state and federal partners can attest, communication through the COVID-19 Pandemic – especially events in person and educational institutions – was drastically effected by our shift to online education and work. As we move into the next steps of the Pandemic, schools across the country, such as our local schools, have had to be decisive about who they brought in for in-person presentations. In the last few months of 2021, as restrictions lifted, it was difficult to find an opening to present, leaving many lost opportunities to educate in an engaging in-person manner. However, in early 2022, we found success in being able to educate over 160 students across local schools, in person, for the first time in close to two and a half years.

Over two presentations, one serving 132 students and another serving 30, youth in our community of varied ages learned about the following:

  • Vapor device identification and terminology
  • Ingredients in pods, flavored and menthol based.
  • The inequities of menthol flavoring in e-cigarettes.
  • The history of Big Tobacco marketing and targeting.
  • The importance of Tobacco21 laws.
  • Health education about the mental and physical effects of using vapor products.

One presentation was conducted by PDC’s Youth Coordinator and another in coordination between PDC’s Community Health Worker and a local Health Divisions Tobacco Control Coordinator. This partnership ensures good communication and non-repetition in teachings across counties and shows great success.

Both presentations were met with great success, followed by requests for further presentations to additional classes and at additional schools. Post surveys and discussions showed great knowledge retention and positive feedback from students which showed us that we were a welcome education piece for youth. We look forward to developing more presentations from this feedback to continue our work.

After such a long break from school presentations, we are moving past the restrictions put in place regarding in-person education in schools and moving to work through and heal social-emotional traumas our youth experienced. It is a great success to be welcomed back by both administrators and youth with the promise of more to come all in the effort to educate tomorrow’s leaders on the long-term importance of a Tobacco Free lifestyle.

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