4-H Health Heroes Educate About Teen Vaping

Madelyn Smith, Ivy Smith, and Callia Barwick

When the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics was preparing a training to educate about adolescent e-cigarette usage, they wanted teens to serve on their advisory panel. Having already developed a presentation on the topic, Ohio 4-H Health Heroes jumped at the chance. The U.S. Surgeon General has declared the current trends in adolescent vaping and e-cigarette use an epidemic. Madelyn Smith, 4-H Health Hero from Franklin County, presenting myths vs. facts at the Columbus vaping training sponsored by the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and CVS HealthVaping has serious health consequences. 

It’s one thing to educate one’s peers about an important health topic. It’s quite another to be a teen presenting to an auditorium full of adults. But that’s exactly what Ohio 4-H Health Heroes Madelyn Smith, Ivy Smith, and Callia Barwick have done, and have done effectively, according to Dr. Theresa Ferrari, Ohio 4-H Youth Development Specialist who advises the Health Heroes group.

These Ohio 4-H Health Heroes not only provided input into planning the training, they played a key role in the presentations themselves. They led the “myths vs. facts” component, an approach from their earlier presentation that was adapted for the adult audience. They also presented dos and don’ts about effective messaging to teens and promoted a peer-to-peer approach. The regional trainings reached a total of 500 educators and health professionals at four locations (Akron, Columbus, Toledo, and Dayton). “We hope our presentation gave adults better insight as to how to address teens about this issue,” said Madelyn Smith. Madelyn Smith with Dr. Michele Dritz, adolescent medicine physician and the medical director for the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics vaping education initiative.

Dr. Michelle Dritz, an adolescent medicine physician and the medical director for the Ohio AAP vaping education initiative, believes that it is important to recognize the expertise that teens bring to the table. She noted that the 4-H Health Heroes added an important dimension to the training. “Over the years, I’ve found that few things are as powerful as hearing directly from teens themselves in terms of helping us as adults best help support their health and well-being,” she said.

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