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Australian-first vaping education program begins in VIC primary schools

Monday, 11 Mar 2024
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Victorian primary school students and their parents have begun to receive education on vaping, with Pembroke Primary School in Melbourne's Eastern suburbs the first in the state to benefit from Life Ed’s new “Take a Breath” education experience. The module is an Australian-first for primary school students and aims to engage children in Years 5 and 6 in the exploration of the issue to encourage critical thinking and prevention.

This comes amidst continuing concerns about the rise in vaping in young people. Research prepared for the Australian Health Department by Cancer Victoria in May 2023 revealed that less than 1 per cent of 14 to 17-year-olds vaped in 2018. This jumped to more than 14 per cent by March 2023.

“Educating children before they are exposed to an issue gives them the best chance at making informed decisions. That’s why Life Ed is delivering education about vaping in the primary school setting, where there is a gap,” said Josy Dileo, Head of Development and Marketing at Life Ed.

“We are taking this approach to meet the concerns where they are beginning. Most of the students we work with think that everyone in high school is vaping. They’re worried about what they will face, and parents are unsure about how to protect their kids. Our top two search terms on our website are ‘vaping’ and ‘smoking’ which speaks to the confusion and misconceptions circulating.”

Life Ed’s “Take a Breath” module explores the issues surrounding vaping and smoking in order to equip Year 5 and 6 students with the facts. Free resources are also provided to parents before and after the iconic Life Ed face-to-face visit, to continue the conversation and embed learning beyond the classroom. “Take a Breath” has expanded on this offering by ensuring a range of parent tools are available online, including a new video series delivered by young people, called “Hey Adults”.

“They say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, emphasising the significance of community support in fostering enduring change and promoting healthy habits,” continued Ms Dileo.

“We’re really proud of this best practice approach because we have seen its impact on children, classrooms and communities over the more than 40 years that Healthy Harold has been trusted to deliver education to Australians.”
Funded by Consumer Healthcare Products Australia, “Take a Breath” features Victorian children in Year 5 and 6 – alongside others from across the country – who have genuine questions about vaping and smoking. High school students then investigate the topic and provide answers.

The teenagers involved encourage their peers to unpack issues like emerging health and environmental impacts, changing laws, social influences and responsible decision making – with all content fact checked by experts. Like all Life Ed programs, “Take a Breath” allows students to gain confidence and develop resilience by encouraging them to use their own agency to make safer and healthier choices, based on the latest evidence and curriculum-aligned content.

For more information, including free parent resources, visit lifeed.org.au/vaping

About Life Ed

Life Ed is the largest and most recognised provider in preventative health education in schools. 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.

Our more than 130 specially trained Life Ed Educators work with more than 4,000 schools, preschools and early learning centres across Australia, reaching over 700,000 students each year.

For more information, visit www.lifeed.org.au