One of the secret weapons in the battle against teen vaping may be other teens, two local high school girls told police officers gathered together from throughout southwest Ohio.
The two Butler Tech students have quickly become the go-to duo for educating school police officers and school officials in how to best combat spreading epidemic of vaping among students.
More than 50 officers from a dozen school districts stretching from north Dayton’s Huber Heights Schools to Cincinnati Public Schools came to Butler County’s Lakota East High School Thursday to hear the girls’ informational presentation.
And what started as a research project for Butler Tech Bioscience School students Danae Fraley and Autumn Nickell, has turned into leadership roles for the two Monroe teens as they are increasingly in demand to speak to at area schools.
Fraley and Nickell told school resource officers about the rocketing vaping problem from an insider’s perspective.
And they gave tips such as watch for students who may be frequently complaining about headaches because that is a common vaping withdrawal symptom. And don’t limit prevention programs to just middle and high schools as some elementary students are now trying the flavored, nicotine-based inhalant provided by their older siblings.
They told the group they want to educate students while they are young to try to prevent the problem from starting.
They are seeing progress, they said.
“We feel like we are making a true impact with the students, especially the younger generations because we can see how much they really want to learn about this problem and the rising epidemic,” said Nickell.
Frakely said, “we do see a little bit of a defense with the older high schoolers and see that that younger age groups are easier and they want to ask questions because they want to know more.
Though the duo has been speaking to student assemblies since October when their school project started, making a presentation in front of veteran police officers was a different experience, they said.
“It was very intimidating, but it was very exciting to be able to reach out to law enforcement and to be able to create a partnership with them as well,” said Nickell.
Huber Heights Police Officer Tammy Shoemaker said that “the girls did awesome and they gave us a lot of information we weren’t aware of.”
“We do plan on having them come to our schools and talk. We are seeing more of this at the middle school and high school … and they are getting it from older kids,” said Shoemaker.
Butler County Sheriff Deputy and Lakota school resource officer Doug Hale also left impressed.
“The girls did a fantastic job and that’s what we need to get into these schools and help students understand. As officers we can tell them (vaping students) but they don’t listen,” said Hale.
“But when you get someone their own age telling them the effects of stuff like that, it’s a really powerful presentation and they did it well,” he said.
“It’s a bad epidemic and it’s all over the United States. But when you got a presentation like this with the girls, it’s a pretty smart way to go about it,” said Hale.
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