Wenatchee School District

The emergence of vapor products (also called electronic cigarettes) and increases in access and use of cannabis products among youth has raised serious concern both nationally and locally.

In response to this growing issue, the Wenatchee and Eastmont school districts have come together to host a Youth Vaping and Drug Prevention Night for the public on Thursday, Feb. 6, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Eastmont High School, 955 NE 3rd St.

Community experts, healthcare providers, and law enforcement officials will share information on the risks, identification, and prevention of drug use among youth in our valley.

Results from the statewide Healthy Youth Survey, a bi-annual survey conducted in schools to measure major adolescent health risk behaviors in Washington state, indicate that while alcohol use is at an all-time low, use of e-cigarettes/vapor products and continues to increase.

More youth are vaping, but their knowledge of vaping products and potential health impacts remains low. Only about one-third of 10th graders thought vaping was harmful according to the survey, while 21 percent of 10th graders who use vapor products report using THC (marijuana) in their vapor products.

Informational booths from community and state organizations will be open from 6:30 to 7 p.m. at the Feb. 6 event. A panel presentation begins at 7 p.m. in the Eastmont High School Auditorium and will feature speakers from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, Together!, Confluence Health and the Washington State Patrol.

Kelsy Bendtsen, Eastmont School District’s social worker and drug interventionist, is the lead event planner. She said parents can use information from the prevention night to start having informed and consistent conversations about drug use with their children.

“Vaping among youth is on the rise and is being declared a national epidemic; the Wenatchee Valley is not immune to this increase,” said Bendtsen.

“Our teens are being faced with more and more pressure to use vaping products, as well as other drugs. Studies show, time and time again, that one of the most effective deterrents to underage use is parent disapproval. I encourage all parents and guardians to attend this information night to learn about the products being sold in our community, as well as the impacts of underage use.”

The Vaping and Drug Prevention Night is the first in a series of presentations planned by the two districts in partnership with Columbia Valley Community Health (CVCH).

The Community-Student Health Series will serve as a platform for schools and CVCH to address student wellness concerns through education, information and connection to local resources. Wenatchee and Eastmont will alternate hosting series presentations.

The next Community-Student Health series topic will be on mental health and is being planned for early spring.

Diana Haglund is communications director for the Wenatchee School District.