Springfield Teens leading anti-vaping campaign

Springfield teens are getting creative in encouraging their peers to steer away from a poor health choice for an upcoming campaign.

Students of the Springfield service group Bringing Awareness to Students or B.A.T.S. are designing posters, videos and other materials for an anti-vaping campaign for the Clark County Combined Health District’s smoking cessation program. The campaign will begin in May.

B.A.T.S. members Noah Chesshir, Addie Powell, Delanie Stratton and Maddie McCutcheon of the Global Impact STEM Academy; Dina Rulli-Heaphey and Peter Bailey of Springfield High; Eleni Linardos of Kenton Ridge; and Mary Cunningham of Ridgewood School are dividing their creative talents for the campaign including posters, videos and other mediums to get the message out.

McCutcheon has combined two of her interests – graphic design and illustration — to get the message across in a video that will be part of the campaign and having the design on a t-shirt.

Chesshir and Powell don’t think young people who vape realize the potential long-term damage it can do to their health. They are even reaching out to business owners who carry candy cigarettes to ask them to consider taking those off their shelves to discourage the association with actual cigarettes.

Another B.A.T.S. response was to do their own versions of vaping ads. They found peers who resemble the models in vaping ads and replaced vaping devices with alternative things including a music instrument.

To help with some of these ads, the B.A.T.S. turned to an “older” peer. Kolton Rice, a 2020 Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center graduate who owns his own media business, OpenEye Studios, shot images for the posters and mocked up the prototypes.

“These guys are always a blast to work with,” said Rice. “This seemed like a good opportunity and I hope we can do more projects together.”

Cunningham, Bailey and Stratton are the poster models.

Rulli-Heaphey is working on a separate series of posters on how students say no to vaping. She’s photographed middle and high school students with their hands over their faces and on their hands written messages of what they’d say to someone offering them a vape.

Beth Dixon, who works with various youth groups including B.A.T.S., sees the peer approach as the most effective method.

“We know that middle and high school students are far more likely to listen to their peers when it comes to drugs and alcohol than adults, and we’ve learned that the best ideas about effective messages for youths come from the youths themselves,” she said. “That’s what makes B.A.T.S. such a powerful youth-led initiative.”