By Anna Bledsoe
Our Prevention Services program has partnered with Portland Public Schools (PPS) this academic school year to ensure access to vaping education for middle and high school students. This has included the development of vaping-specific curriculum, offering on-demand in-class presentations for middle and high school students about nicotine and vaping addiction, refusal skills, health decision making, and media literacy. This curriculum will increase vaping and nicotine awareness and resistance among students.
Prevention Services has offered trauma-informed services to youth who have violated PPS policies around substance use, many of whom are already vaping. In the first three months of 2023, Prevention Services has presented to and engaged over 1,000 youth in 38 conversations. We have held activities about vaping prevention at more than seven middle and high schools, with more scheduled. A big thank you to Melody Field and Erin Saltmarsh at Team VOA for their dedication to these projects!
Additionally, Prevention Services is now partnering with Roosevelt High School (RHS) to train their community on how to interrupt harmful behavior and speech through bystander intervention training. We are working with the Upstander Circle, a youth committee within the school, who have come together for this project. Thus far, 26 RHS students have been involved in co-facilitating bystander intervention-related training and activities for school personnel. These trainings focus on the importance and need for bystander intervention within their school and have an emphasis on how school staff can support students.
The Upstander Circle has been meeting regularly to discuss harmful behavior that they are witnessing, learn de-escalation tactics, and develop a training video that was shared in a school-wide assembly in April to train their peers in bystander intervention. The Upstander Circle will now being working together to identify how to continue to work collaboratively with their peers as well as school staff to move this work forward and create a culture of helping within their high school.