Vaping, teen stress, baby brain development are featured topics
By PAT MELGARES
In Kansas, more than 48% of high school students have tried e-cigarettes (known as vaping), and 22% are currently users, according to surveys done by the state’s Division of Public Health.
Health officials say tobacco use among youth, including vaping, has negative consequences that ultimately cause more than 60,000 Kansans under age 18 to die prematurely from smoking.
Sobering statistics, for sure, but a group of state extension and health professionals aim to stem the tide when the popular Kansas State University program, Living Well Wednesday, kicks off its fall series in early October.
‘It’s Not So Kool to JUUL’ is set for Oct. 4 from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. (CST). The session is free, but participants must register in advance to receive a link to the online presentation.
“Vaping is the new epidemic among youth,” said Sharolyn Jackson, the northeast area family and consumer sciences specialist with K-State Research and Extension, and co-coordinator of the Living Well Wednesday series. “It’s very concerning, and students much younger than (high school) also are experimenting with it. It’s something that we need to be aware of.”
Series co-coordinator Erin Tynon, a family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension’s office in Pottawatomie County, said vaping and other topics planned this fall are aimed at helping parents recognize warning signs of dangerous behaviors.
“It’s really useful for parents to understand what the new vaping devices look like,” she said. “These sessions really are built for a busy parent that needs straightforward information that they can listen to on demand, or anytime they want.”
The Oct. 4 Living Well Wednesday session will feature Donna Gerstner of LiveWell Finney County in Garden City. Among her duties, Gerstner coordinates grants aimed at chronic disease risk reduction (known as CDRR) and e-cigarette prevention.
On Nov. 1, Tynon will co-present a Living Well Wednesday session titled, Teen Stress and Anxiety: How Worried Do Parents Need to Be? Also featured is Christine Perez, a licensed clinical professional counselor and Director of Crisis Services at the Crawford County Mental Health Center in Pittsburg.
“Our session will focus on what is normal teen stress versus knowing when you need to get your child professional help,” Tynon said.
The fall series wraps up on Dec. 6 with a session titled, Rapid Development of Baby Brains and Why it Matters, featuring K-State child development specialist Bradford Wiles; Cottonwood District community wellness agent Monique Koerner; and Chisholm Trail District family and youth development agent Tristen Cope.
The Dec. 6 session also will be offered in Spanish on Dec. 7, featuring Sedgwick County’s K-State Research and Extension family life and resource management agent Elizabeth Brunscheen-Cartegena.
All sessions are free and will be available on video archive. More information is available online on the Living Well Wednesday website.