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Local hospital wins award for vaping prevention program | Main stories

TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (WAND) – Taylorville Memorial Hospital has received a Community Project Award from the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network.

It was for them Catch My Breath, a vaping prevention program that was created to help students learn about the risks of vaping. The program was created after administrators at Taylorville Junior High School noticed an increase in vaping on campus.

The school’s assistant principal, Jennifer Wise, says that by partnering with TMH, students are getting a full picture of the health risks of vaping.

“The long-term effects were very important to us because these students, they have access to them, whether it’s through siblings or other people that they cross paths with, that they get them from, so trying to teach them that the consequences are the long-term effects of these vapes, Wise said.

The program consists of four hour-long sessions that teach kids how to quit vaping, how vaping companies target kids, and how vaping can affect long-term health.

“We’ve had about 500 kids experience the program, and about 93% of them felt they would benefit from it and that they would make better decisions as a result of the program,” said Darin Butz, director of public health at Taylorville Memorial Hospital.

Batz said that after the program ended, several students reached out and asked for help to quit smoking. This led TMH to start a secondary 10-week program where students met in small groups to discuss how to kick their drinking habit.

The program helped students understand that vaping is not a solution to deeper mental health issues.

“Alvirtually all of the children in our program said they were anxious, said Laura Pauley, director of support services at TMH. – If you have anxiety, go to the doctor, take your kids to the doctor and deal with that anxiety in a medically supervised way, instead of them going and deciding on their own that a drug, whether it’s vaping or whatever , they are going to choose as an unhealthy alternative.”

Program directors say they want to expand the program countywide to students in grades 5-12.

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