Melinda Ickes, PhD- Associate Professor, Health Promotion; Program Director, #iCANendthetrend, University of Kentucky
Hayley Leach- Undergraduate Student, Political Science; Facilitator, #iCANendthetrend, University of Kentucky
It is hard to imagine that more than 5 million youth are currently using e-cigarettes. These products are setting up future generations for a lifetime of dependence and health risks if we do not implement innovative prevention efforts immediately.
#iCANendthetrend is an evidence-informed prevention program developed by University of Kentucky researchers and college students to help build awareness on the dangers of e-cigarette use, costs associated with nicotine dependence, and ways youth are influenced to use these products.
The program uses a peer-to-peer model in which students are connected with college facilitators closer to their age. The goal is to empower young people to end the trend of e-cigarette use among their peers. Since February 2019, we have reached over 3,500 youth. While students have general knowledge about e-cigarettes, hey do not grasp how they are being targeted or the risk for dependence. In addition, they need information on quitting resources, opportunities to build refusal skills, and an introduction into how they can make a difference in their communities. The empowerment skills we incorporate throughout the lesson(s) truly engages both the facilitators and student audience as change agents.
“As an #iCANendthetrend facilitator, I have seen first-hand the impact our program is making. I first learned about the gravity of the vaping epidemic from my younger brother who was a high school senior at the time. There is nothing I love more than going into classrooms and watching young kids get excited about developing anti-vaping posters to hang in the hallway or sharing information they just learned with their friends. The response to our program is greater than I ever could have envisioned and has certainly been the highlight of my undergraduate experience. I truly feel like I am making a difference.” ~Hayley Leach
We know we need to work together to end the e-cigarette epidemic. Arming our current generation of young people with accurate information, skills necessary to take action, and an outlet to make a difference is a great first step!
If you are interested in learning more about our program or would like to discuss partnerships to bring #iCANendthetrend to your state, please contact Dr. Melinda Ickes: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.