A presentation on the health effects of vaping was held for parents on Monday, Nov. 4 in the Conklin Library from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Organized by Dean of Students Will Gilyard, three doctors, among them an adolescent psychiatrist and an adolescent medicine physician, presented to KO families as well as West Hartford residents and medical students.
The presentation covered three main points on the causes and risks of teenage use of e-cigarettes: the mechanics of e-cigarettes, treatment for abuse of e-cigarettes, and the psychiatric side of why they’re so widely used among teens. “It was about how vaping is a symptom of some underlying other issues, stress, anxiety, some other things that can lead folks in that direction,” Mr. Gilyard said. It also showed parents how to recognize e-cigarettes and JUUL pods and how to talk to their kids about vaping, whether they vape or not.
Mr. Gilyard was inspired to bring the presentation to KO after attending a similar one at Hall High School. “I thought that their presentation was fantastic in terms of just laying out what the trends were, giving really sound advice to families, looking at the medical and scientific side behind addiction,” he said. “But also what I appreciated about their presentation was that there was a non-judgemental aspect to it.”
Mr. Gilyard especially wanted to emphasize the non-judgmental part of presenting this information to families. “If people need help because they can’t kick that habit, then I want them to have access to resources as well, without discipline,” he said.
Middle School Dean of Students Kathy Dunn said she liked that the presentation was information and research based. “Having real information about something is really important if you’re going to do anything about it,” she said.
Mr. Gilyard said he felt the information presented on Monday is valuable for both parents and students. While he said understanding the side effects of nicotine and JUUL pods is important, he also emphasized understanding long term impacts. “Understanding what the lung injury cases have been in the recent months is important, but also most people don’t realize how to get help and where to go to get some treatment options,” he said.
Ms. Dunn agreed that while the presentation was parent focused, the information presented is just as important for students. “It’s lovely to have the parents there, but they’re not vaping,” she said. “I really think it’s important from a parental perspective for people to start talking to their kids about it before they’re trying to figure out a problem.”
KO plans on making information and treatments readily available for the entire student body. Administrators agree students need more nonjudgemenal outlets. “We have a speaker coming, Feb. 4, Chris Herron, who will speak to students and adults around substance and then maybe leading up to that we’ll do some work about not just vaping but substances in general,” Mr. Gilyard said. A letter summarizing the information in the presentation was sent out in the Wyvern Weekly, and the KO Health Ambassadors club also plans to promote awareness on the impacts of vaping.
“Ideally we’ll get people to understand the health risks and say it’s not worth it,” Mr. Gilyard said. “The hope is that people make healthier choices.”