WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Sixth graders at the West Springfield Middle School listened attentively as four high school students, youth members of the West Springfield Care Coalition, an organization whose mission is to reduce youth substance abuse, spoke to them about the dangers of vaping.

This marked the first in-school presentation with student leaders, giving the students an opportunity to learn from each other.

Care Coalition Coordinator Ananda Knox said having students take the lead on this discussion is important. Students are more receptive to a message being delivered by someone who could be an older brother or sister, someone they could look up to.

Student leaders expressed their interest in helping dissuade students from vaping.

Franza Mazimpaka told 22News, “So I volunteered to be a part of the Care Coalition because of the past couple of years I’ve seen around schools and stuff, especially outside of schools, that teens have been becoming more involved with vaping and the sensation of e-cigarettes and stuff like that. So I think it’s really important that we are trying to educate teens about what is going into their body and trying to prevent the use of it.”

The program ran throughout the day for the students during their science class. Student leaders from the care coalition spoke about the addictive qualities and dangers of vaping, including popcorn lung, prepared visual aspects for their presentations, and took questions from the middle school students.

The ultimate goal of this program is to keep these vape pens out of the hands of our young people.