Influencing each other for the better; working to cut down on Spokane teen vaping numbers

Local health professionals, school leaders, and students are working together to cut down on teen vaping numbers in Spokane.

A new survey shows Spokane kids and teenagers are vaping more than the national average.

Nationally, 20 percent of people under the age of 18 years old actively vape. In Washington, the percentage bumps up to 30 percent. What’s startling to school leaders and students is that in Spokane, almost 35 percent of kids vape. And, they’re starting young.

“14 percent of eighth graders who are indicating they’ve used a vaping device do not know what’s in that vaping device,” said Annie Murphey, NEWESD 101. “So we have kiddos who are out there putting substances into their body that have no clue what it is.”

Thursday, Spokane Public Schools announced they’re planning a symposium to tackle student vaping.

Kids and teens are much more likely to respond to their friends and classmates than listen to their own parents – and that’s what’s happening at North Central High School. Teens are joining in the fight to stop vaping before it takes another one of their friends.

What defines being ‘cool’ in high school in 2019?

Is it vaping?

For the Wellness Tribe at North Central, that answer is a resounding ‘no.’

“I think health is more important than being cool. And if we’re not healthy, then we’re not going to be able to make it past high school,” said Kayla Eddy, junior at North Central High School.

Eddy and her classmate Rocky Garza are working together to decrease the amount of teens vaping at their school.

“Seeing these kids I’ve grown up with for the last four years of my life, seeing those statistics really opens my eyes saying – ‘Oh, we do have a lot more of a problem here,'” Garza said.

About 35 percent of Spokane teens are vaping using a substance that can hurt their health, and potentially kill them.

“I think they’re so stuck at like – ‘Oh, I like the feel, I like the high, it makes me who I am.’ I think that’s what really detours people away from these drug and alcohol counselors,” Garza said.

Eddy and Garza said the solution has to come from their friends.

“If you have a problem, don’t go to drugs first. Go get help,” Eddy said.

These students want their friends to graduate and live a healthy life.

“We really do care about them. We’re not seeing them as a statistic, we’re seeing them humans, and we’re seeing them as people we care for. Especially in a school where you’re like a family,” Garza said.

The symposium will be at 5 p.m. on November 21 at North Central High School. The event will feature talks with health professionals and break-out panels so you can have some Q&A time.

It’s open to the community. They’re welcoming everyone, parents and kids, to come out to the event.