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Junior High School Expands Vaping, Smoking Prevention Education


Catch My Breath is an evidence-based vaping prevention program provided to TJHS students and funded through the Taylorville Memorial Foundation Community Health Grant Program. The program is facilitated by Darin Buttz, director of community health at Taylorville Memorial Hospital, and presented by teachers at the middle school over the course of four in-person sessions.

“The program provides sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students current information they need to make an informed decision about the use of e-cigarettes,” said Buttz. “This education is part of Taylorville Memorial Hospital’s Community Health Implementation Plan, which targets lung health as a priority in our community.”

Last school year, about 92 percent of students surveyed responded they were less likely to try vaping after participating in the Catch My Breath program. Of those students who did at the time use e-cigarettes, several approached program organizers for help in quitting.

“I’m extremely proud of the students who came forward to ask for help to quit vaping,” said Catherine Fassero, a seventh-grade science teacher at TJHS, who co-presented the Catch My Breath programming with Ryan Brown, the middle school’s physical education teacher.

The vaping prevention education at TJHS will continue this school year to include the teen smoking and vaping cessation program called Not On Tobacco (NOT).

“The program takes a holistic approach and encourages voluntary changes, addressing total health in order to develop and maintain positive behaviors,” said Buttz. “Participants talk in small groups about the importance of physical activity, nutrition, enhancing their sense of self-control and improving life skills such as stress management, decision-making, coping and interpersonal skills.”

The Not On Tobacco sessions are offered on an as-needed basis during the school day to students who want to stop using e-cigarettes or tobacco products.

Dovetailing with the educational programming and the e-cigarette and tobacco cessation support group, one dozen sensors that detect vapor given off by e-cigarettes were installed throughout the middle school over the summer.

“The installation of the sensors deals specifically with the administrative response to discourage the use of e-cigarettes at school and further reduce the use of e-cigarettes in general,” said Eric Bruder, principal at TJHS.

The Taylorville Memorial Foundation provided a $9,605 community health grant to purchase and install the sensors.

The Taylorville Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organized in 1995. The foundation accepts financial donations to help further the mission of Taylorville Memorial Hospital. For more information about the foundation or its Community Health Grant Program, visit or call 217-707-5271.