The Outreach Team joins up with YOUTH Tobacco Coalition at Seven Hills Middle School

Did you know… E-cigs and vaporizers that contain nicotine are addictive. Just like regular cigarettes are?  Well, students at Seven Hills Middle School in Nevada City definitely didn’t. You may be asking how we could know this… because we asked them. In a short three-question survey taken by 5-8th graders at Seven Hills, we learned that the majority of students believed the e-cigarettes posed little or no harm and tobacco cigarettes posed great harm. To meet this misperception and provide the most information we could, The Outreach Team joined up with the YOUTH (Youth Opposing the Use of Tobacco for Health) Coalition for the presentation of a lifetime. The presentation was on Friday, February 27th with a 7th and 8th grade assembly first thing in the morning and a 5th and 6th grade presentation directly following.

Just the facts…

With young developing minds as our audience, we had to make sure we provided accurate and scientifically supported information which is no easy feat. After months of preparation, research, and team effort, we were thrilled that we were able to provide a comprehensive presentation and, hopefully, dispel some misperceptions about use for our future leaders.  Like any step-by-step process, we had to take ours as well…
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  • First, we ironed out the details of an incredible fact-discovering performance where the students learned that toluene, acetaldehyde, benzenene, cadmium, formaldehyde, isoprene, nickel, lead, nicotine, n-nitrosonornicotine are just some of the chemicals found in e-cig vapor. If some of these chemicals sound familiar, it’s probably because they are also on California’s Prop 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer. But wait…that’s not what the ads say. That’s right! The message these students were getting from a variety of sources was that e-cigs are relatively harmless
  • Our next step… involve the students of course. Who knows more about being a student than the students who actually attend the school every day? With the support of Principal, David Figuly and Leadership teacher Brian Ellis, we were able to spend several days working with the students involved in Leadership at Seven Hills. They shared with us some of the pressing issues happening in their school such as bullying, interpersonal relationship issues, substance use and gossip. Then, they helped our Team refine some participation areas for both the assembly and ongoing Outreach activities.
  • Presenting the info… Strategically placed throughout the floor seating arrangement were seven of the Leadership participants with fact sheets about marijuana and tobacco smoking while several others helped and passed out flyers about the upcoming Outreach Team visit on March 9th. The high-energy Did you know? activity got the crowd busy with knowledge of the various facts about smoking. Did you know Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals – There are 33 cancer-causing chemicals contained in marijuana. Following the high energy introduction of the Team, was a showing of The Other Side, a roughly 20-minute documentary by high school students promoting healthy choices through healthy lifestyles. The closing of the assembly was a line of youth role models from Seven Hills speaking up about why they choose not to use and how they choose to promote their healthy lifestyle. One student spoke out saying she chose not to use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs because they would take away from her dreams and future goals.
  • Feedback…One sixth grader said she learned a few really important lessons from the presentation, “I learned that, even though there isn’t always nicotine in the vapor pens, there are a lot of other toxic chemicals”. She also told us that she was surprised to learn that 90% of addiction begins in adolescence.

Who are we anyway?

The YOUTH Coalition, comprised of first-year Sierra College students, Sierra Dallugge , Astha Adhikari and Xin  Yu, presented an informative presentation on e-cigs and tobacco addressing the inherent risks of inhaling any chemical into the lungs and the youth-targeted messaging that “Big Tobacco” uses to promote products.

The Outreach Team, including Shasta Spencer, Youth Outreach Coordinator for CDFNC – Union Hill, Lyman Gilmore, Ready Springs, and Pleasant Valley; Michael Boyd, Senior at Ghidotti and Outreach Team member- Seven Hills and Clear Creek; Lindsay Betz, Outreach Team member – Clear Creek, Union Hill, and Lyman Gilmore; and Melissa Kelley, Prevention Advocate, Outreach Team member – Seven Hills and Magnolia; promoted the work of the Leadership students with the interactive Did you know? session.

So…what do we do?

Beginning in October 2014, The Outreach Team began hosting monthly activities at the school to promote the poster messages all over campus. Here’s what we’ve learned through a variety of self-reporting, conversations, and outreach …Most kids choose NOT to use alcohol and other drugs. In fact, MOST youth say they want to be a positive role model for people around them. So where does this misperception that “everyone” does it come from? We know that our culture is incredibly diverse when it comes to ideas and beliefs around what is acceptable use of any substance whether it’s tobacco, alcohol, or any other addictive substance. Drug prevention education through the use of positive community norms seeks to shift the perception that everyone is doing it and focus on the positive choices our youth are making.

Did you know…Various studies suggest the vapors from e-cigarettes contain several cancer-causing substances, as well as incredibly tiny particles of tin, chromium, nickel and other heavy metals, which, in large enough concentrations, can damage the lungs.

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The Outreach Team
180 Sierra College Drive
Grass Valley, CA 95945