NEWBURYPORT — A Newburyport High School senior recently received the Girl Scouts of America’s highest honor — the Gold Award — for her project on incorporating curriculum on vaping into the district’s health program.
Annmarie Noe, 17, attended Girl Scout Day at the Statehouse on June 14 and was recognized for her work on educating her community on the teenage vaping and e-cigarette epidemic. The project was part of her work to receive the Gold Award, which Noe said is similar to the Eagle Scout Award presented by the Boy Scouts of America
The project had to be sustainable in the community, she said. Noe chose vaping because she’s seen a dramatic rise in the number of her peers smoking e-cigarettes and wanted to do something to warn students and parents of the dangers. She first went to a health teacher at the high school to create a curriculum to be incorporated into the district’s health program.
“We worked together to do a pretest and post-test, a video lesson and group discussion,” Noe said. “We incorporated that in the school’s education and programs of study.”
Noe is a member of high school’s student council, which has tackled several issues this year, including the increase in vaping. After talking to other council members, the group started working to have a similar curriculum implemented at Rupert A. Nock Middle School.
“Juuling has became really popular with 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds,” Noe said, referring to the Juul brand of e-cigarette. “It’s absolutely sad that 8-year-olds have nicotine in their bodies.”
To expand her project outside school walls, Noe met with Mayor Donna Holaday to launch a social media campaign, which included facts about vaping, such as how much nicotine is in a Juul pod, among other information.
“(The mayor) posted them on her social media so parents were more aware and parents knew what the effects were,” said Noe, who added that parents often do not know about the seriousness of vaping since it’s a new phenomenon.
Noe said she was amazed at how well her peers responded to the presentation. She’s planning to work on a presentation for the Parent Speaker Alliance to spread the message, “It’s not cool to Juul.”
“I’m so glad I had my troop leader and fellow Girl Scouts help me through it,” Noe said. “It was definitely a long project, but I had a nice support system to help me.”
Staff writer Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.