“We did it!” chimes the student council members from Boulder Elementary School after they found out they had been awarded a $20,000 Tobacco Use Prevention grant.
The student council has been very motivated in helping their peers to make better choices when it comes to vaping. Earlier this year the students researched and created anti-vaping presentations to deliver to third through eighth grade classes. Their campaign was very successful and stopped the trend of students vaping on campus. The idea continued when the students were made aware of the Montana Office of Public Instruction TUPE grant. This grant is very competitive, and the students only learned about the grant the week before it was due. They diligently began work to write a portion of the grant. Part of the grant they wrote states “…we will continue to educate BES students on the dangers of vaping and why not to engage in it. Our student council can also put up more signs so people know to not smoke or vape here, in BES, where kids learn and are educated.”
They asked me, the Jefferson County school nurse, to help them write the grant and get it submitted. BES suggested that we include Jefferson High School in the grant, as well. The two schools have worked together on other grants, and since the eighth grade students will be filtering over to that high school next year it only made sense to include them. With only four days left before the grant was due, we hammered it out and sent it in.
We were notified on Wednesday, May 10 that our application was successful. Part of the grant funds will go towards training that I will take to help educate students who get caught vaping on school campus, and to help support students who have already become addicted to the nicotine in vapes. Ultimately the idea is to become less punitive and to help students make better choices and stay healthy. The BES student council grant writing committee was a huge part of the success of this grant. Seeing young people fight for their peers is very powerful. These students are true leaders and should be celebrated for their efforts this year.
Erin Ritchie serves as the Jefferson County Public Health School nurse.
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