Teens at Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, Kentucky, are teaching their peers across Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) about the dangers of smoking and using e-cigarettes.
Last year, Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness began working with a group of media students on a Teens against Tobacco project called SmokeFreePRP. The students developed campaign materials to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking and e-cigarette use, including original videos, artwork and social media posts.
“Teens are more likely to listen to their peers than adults,” said Jenita Lyons, manager, Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness. “That’s why we feel it’s important that this campaign is student-created and student-driven.”
Recently, the students developed and launched an interactive quiz using the popular Kahoot! gaming app. Gamers compete to answer questions such as “Is it true that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to regular cigarettes?” Scores are based on not only answering the questions correctly, but also quickly.
PRP media and health students are using the game to explore the dangers of smoking and vaping. The tool has been made available to health teachers across the district.
Smoking continues to impact local teens
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, more than 14 percent of Kentucky high school students smoke. That’s nearly double the national average. Experts also estimate that nearly 120,000 Kentucky kids will die prematurely from smoking. More students also are vaping and using e-cigarettes, such as JUULs.
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Over the past several decades, teen tobacco use has significantly decreased, however with the surge in e-cigarette use among young people, a new generation of youth are at a serious risk for nicotine addiction.
“Most smokers start when they are young, so it is especially important to reach youth with prevention messages in middle and high school,” Jenita said.
Taking campaign to schools across Kentucky
The PRP students not only want to educate their own peers but take the message to other high schools throughout the region. Health teachers within JCPS are using campaign materials and e-cigarette curricula across the district. Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness also is working with other schools to engage students in peer-led campaigns like SmokeFreePRP.
Kentucky Educational Television (KET) recently did a story highlighting the SmokeFreePRP campaign.