Every year, the North Shore High School Key Club takes on a project which emphasizes community service and making the North Shore a better place to live. When they began discussing this year’s project, club president Gillian Neos, a senior, knew exactly what this year’s project should be after looking back on a substance abuse presentation the club had made in April. While the presentation covered tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse, the middle schoolers in the audience had more questions about vaping than anything else.
Club members took notice, and decided that this year’s project should focus on vaping. After months of hard work, they created a video which features its members giving a presentation on the dangers of vaping to a full classroom. They go over 20 slides, each of which have a different message, such as why people use e-cigarettes and how it affects their bodies and different aspects of their social and developmental lives. The video, called “North Shore Key Club Lends a Hand to Those in Need,” was released in December and can be viewed on YouTube.
Neos said vaping is a huge issue among teenagers today, including many in the North Shore School District, and the club wanted to make a difference in its community. The issue affects her particularly hard, she said, as a relative of a close friend of hers died at 17 from a vaping-related illness.
“I know people in my community who participate in these activities,” she said, “so I wanted to see if our club could do something to fight it and try to stop it.”
“There’s a problem in the news all the time and it hits home when it affects our middle school and kids who are vaping in the high school,” said Key Club advisor Julia Salat, “so we wanted to tackle that problem.”
The club’s executive board divided its members into committees that researched different things, as well as working on difference aspects of video production. Most of the information used by the club came from the tobacco control nonprofit Truth Initiative, as well as presentations made by past members of the club.
Junior Frankie Corozzo was in charge of all the filming and editing and said that she is glad to see the club’s hard work pay off. “I know of a lot of people that vape and are my age,” she said, “and as much time and effort that we put in that was pretty hard sometimes, it all came out into good things because it goes toward a beneficial cause.”
Neos, Corozzo and Salat all said that they hope the video reaches as wide an audience as possible. Corozzo said she especially hopes that people who already vape see their work and learn the truth of their dangerous habit.
Alison Camardella, president of the North Shore Coalition Against Substance Abuse, has been to past Key Club presentations and said she was blown away by members’ knowledge of substance abuse and ability to communicate their message effectively. She said the two most influential parts of any child’s life are their parents and peers, and it greatly helps for them to hear such positive messages come from people closer to their own age.
“It is an invaluable step toward reducing vaping in the youth community,” Carmardella said, “because the positive influence that peers can have on each other can be just as powerful as negative peer pressure.”
Camardella said the video would be valuable even to children on the elementary level, as she has been told by fourth and fifth-graders that they know someone who vapes. Additionally, she said CASA intends to share the video online as well.
North Shore Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo has been very proactive in enhancing vaping awareness in the district over the past two years, with district conducting anti-vaping workshops with students starting in fourth grade. He said the fact that these students are taking on this responsibility is incredible, especially considering the influence they can have on younger children.
“[When] kids talk to other kids about important issues, the messages resonate,” Giarizzo said.