Montgomery County Public Schools has launched Let’s Clear the Air, a campaign geared towards preventing vaping amongst youth.
A press conference was held on Thursday Feb. 6 to announce the launch of the campaign. MCPS partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services in order to raise awareness about the dangers of vaping. There is a great amount of concern within MCPS about the problem of vaping amongst youth and the health threat it causes, according to Superintendent Jack Smith.
“Health officials have been working with us in Montgomery County and they continue to say that they see a rise in the use of vaping among adolescents,” said Smith.
Many students are unaware of the dangerous ramifications in which vaping can cause. Smith noted that there were several incidents in October where students lost consciousness and were hospitalized due to vaping.
The goal is that by spreading awareness about the negative ramifications of vaping, they will be able to help the community as a whole. Because of this, a large part of the campaign consists of community engagement on the issue in order to better find a solution.
“We are very concerned about the impact that it has on not only their well being, mental, physical, emotional, but also the academic aspect of our students,” said Associate Superintendent Ruschelle Reuben.
According to Reuben, through the facilitation of student focus groups and activities, MCPS is hoping to discover the triggering factors that have led students to engage in substance use. Another aspect of the campaign would be the facilitation of a parent and student course on Saturdays and in the evenings that covers substance use.
MCPS is focused on, “How do we make sure that we are providing support that is not so much punitive as it is restorative and allows for students to repair?” said Reuben.
As a part of the campaign, MCPS will be holding a district wide symposium on Saturday, March 28 at Johns Hopkins Universities Montgomery County campus. The symposium will consist of a guest speaker, resource fair, and breakout sessions to assess different strategies that will help students.
Alongside their campaign with DHHS, MCPS has made other partnerships and is focused on staying up to date with the trends and data in order to better provide resources for the community. The end goal of the program is to equip students with the skills around decision making, goal setting, effective communication and more so that they have the knowledge to resist vaping, according to Health and Physical Education Supervisor Cara Grant.
“Overall we know that there is a lot of work to be done but we do have a comprehensive health and physical education program that provides instruction from Pre-K through 12 for our students, and we continue to accept and employ our partnerships across the district, state, and even the nation, ” said Grant.