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Nursing students take anti-vaping message to local middle school

ISSUED: 18 December 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — A group of Shepherd University nursing students taking the Population Health class spent the fall semester spreading the word to middle school students that vaping is hazardous to their health. The nursing students were assigned to Harpers Ferry Middle School for the clinical portion of the class and worked with the school nurse to identify a good topic to research and make a presentation on. Katherine Koller, a nursing major from Charles Town, said that resulted in a PowerPoint presentation titled “Escape the Vape.”

“We recognized there is a lack of understanding about the negative effects that vaping has on our bodies, specifically in the teenage population,” Koller said. “One of the best ways to approach an issue like this is prevention or early intervention, so in our presentation we focused on teaching the students how their body is supposed to work and how inhaling chemicals through vaping affects the respiratory system, brain, and heart.”

The presentation describes how the lungs, heart, and brain work and explains what vaping is. It then goes on to illustrate how vaping can cause impacts such as slow brain development, memory and concentration problems, and cardiovascular and lung disease.

Koller said as the class was doing research for the presentation, the Centers for Disease Control, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources identified a surge in the number of the vaping-related illnesses and deaths across the country. Sprinkled throughout the presentation are news headlines illustrating illnesses and deaths caused by vaping.

“We are grateful for community partnerships that allow us to extend our reach and expand our knowledge base in order to best serve our students and their families,” said Mary Ellen Lloyd, facilitator of Jefferson County Schools student support services. “This partnership with Shepherd University and the nursing education department is a fine example of community collaboration at its best.”

The nursing students spoke to six, seventh, and eighth graders at Harpers Ferry Middle School. Koller said more than 80 percent of the Harpers Ferry student body signed an anti-vaping pledge after hearing the presentation. They created a pre-presentation survey for Harpers Ferry students to fill out, provided a post-presentation petition, and collected the data. In addition, the Shepherd students gave a presentation to eighth graders at Charles Town Middle School.

“You don’t know the impact you have on the students,” Koller said. “If we were able to reach just one student and prevent one student from choosing to vape, then it was all worth it.”

“It was a great project to promote health for the kids as well as advocate for them and just educate in general,” said Katelyn Novinger of Falling Waters. “It was very fun.”

“It was very fulfilling to do this project,” Samuel Shifflet of Bunker Hill. “I enjoyed it very much. We got to interact with the kids. You could feel the energy we brought as well as the energy from the audience, and it was a very positive experience.”

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