New program teaching grade 5 students about the dangers of smoking


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WATE) – A new smoking prevention program is reaching grade 5 students in Knox County during their after-school hours. The Metro Drug Coalition has partnered with Shades of Development to start an important conversation about substance abuse.

As part of the program, Youth Initiative Coordinators visit after-school programs to teach about the dangers of smoking and vaping. One of these coordinators is Asheton Casey. She teaches grade 5 students the evidence-based program, “Catch my Breath,” which has been shown to significantly reduce a student’s likelihood of vaping and has shown an increase in positive perceptions regarding mode choice. life without vaping.

Casey says his presentations often lead to conversations about substance abuse within a child’s family and home. She also focuses on teaching students language that de-stigmatizes substance use disorders. Additionally, conversations that take place after school are seen as crucial to a child’s positive development.

“Trying to reach students during that extra-curricular time, when that’s an important part of prevention, is kind of filling in the gaps when they’re outside of the classroom,” Casey said.

The program consists of four sessions. Casey has run programs at Brickey-McCloud Elementary and Powell Elementary. Its goal is to visit 10 to 15 after-school programs this school year.

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