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Monomoy takes proactive approach to youth vaping

Vaping is a new and challenging problem facing today’s parents and educators. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or vape pens, were originally introduced to help adults stop smoking traditional cigarettes, to protect people from secondhand smoke, and to prevent youth from starting to use tobacco/nicotine. While the number of young people smoking traditional cigarettes has decreased in recent years, the use of e-cigarettes by youth has increased dramatically. Vaping has often been presented as safer for adults than traditional cigarettes, yet young bodies and minds are more susceptible to damage, so vaping is quite unhealthy for teenagers, as it contains dangerous chemicals, including nicotine, and can severely harm young brains and lungs.

To help keep students healthy and safe, Monomoy Regional School District is taking a proactive approach to youth vaping. One new initiative at Monomoy Regional High School in Harwich is called Project Connect. This program, led by Monomoy Nurse Leader Cheryl Dufault, focuses on education as opposed to punishment. Rather than suspending students who are caught vaping, Project Connect will educate and support students using a proven curriculum from addiction experts. As Project Connect will meet during the school’s Jawsome Hour lunch break, students won’t have to miss out on valuable class time. The sessions will consist of lessons educating students about the risks and dangers of vaping, as well as open conversations offering support and bolstering self-esteem. Students are also encouraged to voluntarily join Project Connect if they are struggling with nicotine use.

In addition, Monomoy is partnering with the Barnstable County Department of Human Services to educate families about the dangers of vaping. As vaping is such a relatively new trend, many adults aren’t familiar with the physical products or signs of vaping, and many are under the misconception that it’s safe for young people. Working with the trained team from the Department of Human Services, Monomoy will provide educational materials to parents and caregivers at a variety of school-based events, including orientations, curriculum nights, and meet the coaches nights. In addition, MRSD will hold a Parent University in October, where parents and caregivers can come and learn about vaping in person, see the products first-hand, and get information on how to identify the use of e-cigarettes by young people. The discussion will also include how to get help for teenagers who are already vaping, and ideas to help prevent them from ever starting at all. 

Monomoy Regional School District is committed to keeping it students safe and healthy, and is taking a multi-pronged approach to further reducing -- and hopefully eliminating -- youth vaping. The key will be educating students, families, and the community about the risks and dangers of electronic cigarettes. 

This article appeared in the September 2019 issue of Harwich Neighbors magazine.