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Canadian Federation of
Medical Students
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Escape the Vape

What is your initiative? Can you provide a brief description for our readers?

Escape the Vape is a health promotion and prevention initiative, where we provide education to grade five students in classrooms across Thunder Bay. We educate students about: 1) the harms of vaping to the body, 2) the flavours/toxins that are contained in vaping products, in addition to how flavours target youth, 3) the vaping industry in comparison to the tobacco industry and how it is not unfamiliar, advertisement and financial tactics. We teach the children through three separate escape rooms in their classroom, combining fun problem-solving skills with health messaging throughout.

What motivated you to start this initiative? What local/global need were you seeking to address? Does this need hold special significance for you?

A NOSM medical student who had experience in tobacco prevention and advocacy work through the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) as a youth created the project. The Vaping industry was unexpected and on the rise, with as young as Grade 4/5 vaping. It was felt that youth should be better educated on the harms of vaping, contents, and industry to make informed decisions. With the new changes in the Ontario curriculum and a funding opportunity for tobacco/vaping projects, a proposal was created. Enthusiastic and creative Compass North students joined together to formulate the escape rooms as an engaging and interactive way to deliver health information on vaping.

How did you start up the initiative? What resources or supports were you able to rely upon? What were some of the obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them?

The team originally applied for funding through the Tobacco Reduction in Youth Partnerships (TRYPs) in collaboration with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) to receive funding for the project. The funding went towards supplies to create the Escape Rooms, SWAG, and printed resources. A group of NOSM and Lakehead students through Compass North developed the escape rooms. The TBDHU was, and continues to be, extremely supportive with funding, supplying printing resources, and checking our content for quality and accuracy. We originally did not complete the escape rooms when we wanted because of COVID-19, but finally conducted our first workshop in June 2023. We were extremely grateful to have support and connection to teachers through the Lakehead District School Board.

How did things go/how are things going? What’s next for this project?

Escape the Vape has been a HIT! Last year, we completed the workshop in nine classrooms with a committee of five students. Since October of 2024 (at the time of writing this document it is February 2024), we have completed fifteen workshops with three more scheduled, and have a team of twelve committee members! Next, we are going to further integrate with TBDHU and the Tobacco Reduction in Youth Partnerships (TRYPS) to improve our partnerships and further integration into the community.

Advice/guidance: Be creative! Think of innovative ways to learn and deliver health education for youth.

What advice or guidance would you give to others seeking to start a similar inititative? Would you be willing to provide contact info, for posting to the CFMS website?

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team members!

Team Members