Aussie students co-design new vaping education module - Education Matters Magazine
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Aussie students co-design new vaping education module

Young people from across Australia have united to educate primary school students on the issues that surround vaping.

The innovative student-led learning module developed by Life Ed is called ‘Take a Breath’ and urges Year 5 and 6 students to stop, ‘Take a Breath’ and investigate the issues for themselves.

Funded by Consumer Healthcare Products Australia (CHP Australia), the module features children in Years 5 and 6 who have genuine questions about vaping and smoking, alongside high school students who provide answers.

The teenagers involved encourage their peers to use critical thinking skills to unpack issues like emerging health and environmental impacts, changing laws, social influences and responsible decision making.

“The result is really special. It’s powerful to see real Australian teenagers speaking up about vaping and smoking, educating younger students and showcasing their strengths,” said Russell D’Costa, CEO of Life Education Australia.

“It’s this authentic approach that makes this initiative so distinctive and impactful. Not only does the module centre around the voices of young people, but the teens also played an important part in production as they created and edited their own video responses. This peer-to-peer style of education is effective in that it encourages everyone involved to develop critical thinking skills – from the young people featured in the video, through to those learning from it.”

While Australia has one of the lowest rates of smoking in the world, vaping has increased significantly over the years. Research prepared for the Australian Health Department by Cancer Victoria in May 2023 revealed that less than one per cent of 14 to 17-year-olds vaped in 2018. This jumped to more than 14 per cent by March 2023.¹

Like all Life Ed programs, ‘Take a Breath’ is strength-based and evidence-backed. It supports busy teachers by providing them with a tailored, curriculum-aligned unit of work that includes:

  1. Pre-visit resources and information for teachers and parents;
  2. A face-to-face visit for students with a highly trained Educator;
  3. Post-visit ‘plug and play’ lessons to be facilitated by teachers, with no extra prep time required; and
  4. Booster lessons including a series of on-demand videos with discussion guides, designed to be facilitated with ease by teachers.

The ‘Take a Breath’ module also includes a unique video package for parents, with education delivered by young people in a series called ‘Hey adults’.

While there are a number of vaping education options available, Life Ed differs in its early intervention approach.

“Research tells us that educating children before they are exposed to a particular issue gives them the best chance at making informed decisions. That is why Life Ed delivers education in the primary school setting, while other vaping education programs concentrate on high schools,” Mr D’Costa said.

“This early intervention allows young people to practice making safe life choices before being confronted by challenging situations, difficult decisions and increasing peer pressure.”

The new ‘Take a Breath’ module will be rolled out to schools from Term 1 2024, with bookings open now.

For more information and to book a visit: https://lifeed.org.au/take-a-breath/

Life Ed is Australia’s largest independent provider of preventive health education to school children. With the help of its iconic mascot Healthy Harold the giraffe, Life Ed has been empowering children and young people to make safer and healthier choices for more than 40 years.

Life Ed works in more than 4,000 schools and preschools across Australia, with over 700,000 school children participating in its program each year. More than 130 specially trained Life Ed educators visit students across the country using mobile (vans) and pop-up classrooms, and via its virtual and online lessons.

1. https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-06/current-vaping-and-smoking-in-the-australian-population-aged-14-years-or-older-february-2018-to-march-2023.pdf

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