City of Alexandria Hosting Parent’s Session on Dangers of Vaping
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The City of Alexandria will host a free educational program for parents on the dangers of vaping at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, at Convention Hall at 915 Third Street in downtown Alexandria.
“There are so many dangers parents need to be aware of to help protect their children,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall. “Vaping is one of the newest challenges, and frankly many parents don’t know what it is, how dangerous it can be and how to even start to talk to their kids about it. That is why programs like this are so important. We need to get the latest information out to parents so they can know what the risks are and take the appropriate actions to ensure the safety of their children.”
The program, titled “Vaping Me Crazy” will be presented by Michael DeLeon, the founder of Steered Straight, a non-profit organization providing educational programs and materials to youth, families and communities across the country. “We are in the worst public social health crisis America has ever seen,” DeLeon notes. “With vaping/JUULing, marijuana legalization and a culture that literally grew up with pills marketed as the solution for every human ailment, the threat to our youth is greater than ever.”
To further encourage parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of drugs, a number of local pizza delivery restaurants, including BJ’s and Wildwood, will be placing stickers on pizza boxes encouraging parents to discuss drugs over dinner. “It is important that parents have these conversations with their children,” Hall said. “I know it can be uncomfortable, but it is important and our hope is these stickers will help prompt those conversations.”
In addition to the City of Alexandria, the Rapides Parish School Board, Rapides Regional Medical Center and Sheriff William Earl Hilton are local sponsors of the drug-awareness program.
“Vaping has become a growing concern across the country and here in Central Louisiana,” said Charla Ducote, Vice President of Public Relations, Marketing and Business Development at Rapides Regional Medical Center. “As a parent and as someone who works in a healthcare environment, I believe it’s always a good idea to educate ourselves about substances and habits that can affect our health.
“This presentation is designed for teens and pre-teens, which studies show are the populations most negatively affected by vaping. But it’s also important that we educate the parents and educators in our community, too,” Ducote said.
DeLeon, considered the leading subject matter expert on vaping and current youth drug use trends, points to a recent survey of youth in which 37 percent said they didn’t realize it was nicotine they were inhaling when they were vaping. Another survey revealed 55 percent of high school students and 33 percent of middle school students are current e-cigarette users.
“The threat to our youth is real, and the importance of parental awareness and education can’t be overemphasized,” Hall said. “I urge every parent of a young child to attend, but it’s critically important for the parents of high school and middle school students to attend this free program.”
In addition to the parent’s meeting Oct. 14, DeLeon will lead sessions for students at Alexandria Senior High, Bolton, Buckeye, Northwood, and Peabody high schools, Tioga Junior High and Rapides Alternative School throughout the day Oct. 14 and 15. In 2018, DeLeon presented programs at 616 schools in 40 states.
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