SOUTHINGTON — Students at DePaolo Middle School on Wednesday participated in National Kick Butts Day to spread awareness of the dangers of tobacco use.
Eighth grader Chris Bray, president of the school’s peer advocates group, said students designed and displayed posters with information about the dangers of tobacco use and the chemicals in e-cigarettes. The posters allowed student leaders to get the message to fellow students as they walk the hallways, he added.
According to the Kick Butts Day website, more than 1,000 events were held in schools and communities across the United States. The national day has been organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids since 1996.
Trish Kenefick, an advisor to the peer advocates, said DePaolo has participated in the national program for the past 15 years. Vaping is a particular concern this year, she added.
“We saw a much lower incidence of smoking – but this year there’s been a higher instance of vaping,” said Kenefick, who also chairs the Southington Drug Task Force.
Bray said teens might be drawn to vaping because of the availability of fruity flavors, scents and colors. Peer advocates wanted to talk about vaping this year because of its growing popularity.
“It’s something that people should hear from their peers,” Bray said. “Kids our age actually listen to their peers and their friends and they care what they’re saying and what they think.”
Kenefick said parents are happy that students are coming home and sharing information. The students talked about the facts during lunch and morning announcements. She said additional programs, for all middle school and high school students, are in the works.
“We’re hoping that when kids are aware of the dangers,” Kenefick said. “...that they might think twice.”