Springfield College Student Advocates for Wellness Present at National Conference

SPRINGFIELD — Students from the Springfield College Student Advocates for Wellness recently presented information on the health risks of vaping at the National Assoc. of Student Personnel Administrator (NASPA) General Assembly in Baltimore.

The NASPA General Assembly is the annual national peer-education conference of the organization. Christine Johnston, Springfield College’s assistant director for Alcohol and Other Drug Education and Health Promotion, led the team.

As part of the General Assembly, the students presented a breakout session titled “Escape the Vape: A Public Health Crisis,” which highlighted the programs that the Student Advocates for Wellness have initiated on the Springfield College campus to bring awareness regarding the health risks of vaping. More than 50 health-promotion peers attended the presentation from colleges and universities throughout the country. The session included a lively discussion and many requests to share materials of how Springfield College faculty and staff are educating their students about this health topic.

“Students have worked on the presentation since the summer when they came up with the topic of the dangers of vaping to discuss at the conference,” Johnston said. “I am so proud of the job they did, and they received so much positive feedback from their peers with just how impressive their presentation was.”

Student Advocates for Wellness team members Sarah Hogan (junior, sports biology), Allison Leary (junior, physical therapy), Grace Pedersen (junior, English and elementary education/special education), and April Phelps (junior, physician assistant) presented as a group at the conference.

“We wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to discuss such an important topic in front of 40 to 50 people. It was just a great experience for us from which to learn,” Phelps said. “Attendees asked questions, and it was a great learning experience to have to think of the answers right on the spot.”

As part of the presentation, the students had to make sure they were up to date with the latest data results and information about the vaping crisis, including associated risks, new health outbreaks, and actions campuses are taking to combat the issue.

“So much of the data that is available on this topic has changed over the last six to eight months, so we were making sure we were updating our presentation right up until the night before the conference,” Hogan said. 

The team submitted a formal program proposal that went through an extensive approval process, with only the top proposals nationwide being selected.

“We received so much positive feedback following the presentation, and it was exciting to hear that the efforts we are making to educate our students at Springfield College about this important vaping health issue is setting the standard for how colleges and universities should be addressing this issue,” Leary said.

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