Project Aware’s ‘No Vape November’ is an important platform for Oak Hill High School as vaping is a concerning issue that’s getting kids in trouble and negatively affecting their health.
Discipline in the school is increasing over vaping because it’s something else in kid’s hands and another thing to be addicted to.
“It’s just another thing to kind of control your body or control your mind… Whenever you are in school. And it’s hard whenever you’re addicted to something to focus on class or things like that,” said in-school therapist Tiffany Gray. “So if we could change the kid’s perspective on vaping and kind of get them more focused on just being that positive influence and honestly doing whatever they can for their health, that would be great for us.”
Often kids feel vaping is okay and they’ll say ‘I’m not smoking.’
“There are very harmful chemicals within the vape… That you are putting in your body,” Gray said. “So a lot of the time we’ll have the pictures of all the chemicals that you’re putting in your body when you use a vape pen in our hallways. We have cans and cans of like hairspray. Even though it’s not smoking a cigarette, there are bad chemicals.”
Project Aware (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) is a five-year grant funded through SAMHSA. The movement wanted to take a positive approach to a campaign against vaping.
“For the project aware schools we provide a mental health therapist for all three schools that’s written into the grant and then we also focus on substance use,” said Fayette County Schools project aware manager Rhonda Chuyka. “It’s a perfect match for us to partner with the (Fayette) Prevention Coalition for this campaign for ‘No Vape November.'”
Many students stepped up to take part in this movement so they could be a peer influence to the people in their building. Those willing to speak up are high school students, middle school students, Pre-K through 8 students. The oldest of the bunch and also the youngest. And they partnered with a few local businesses.
“Boss Mentality CrossFit, one of their owners chose to speak up, we’ve had PNC Bank, even the mountaineer for Morgantown, he was in town one day and decided he wanted to speak up too,” Gray said.
“So we definitely encourage not only our community members but maybe even colleges or anyone who honestly wants to help us… just to kind of help our kids with inflicting that change.”
According to Gray, Oak Hill High School also offers free cessation programs when students would like to stop vaping.
“And it’s not just the Project Aware schools that are participating,” said Chuyka. “Meadow Bridge High School and also Midland Trail High School. “We’re super happy that it’s a collaboration within our whole county and it’s bringing the students together in their efforts.”