Mulrennan Middle School PTA President Kimberly McDonough said she never wins anything, so it came as a surprise when she was told she had won a $1,000 grant for her school.
“I screamed because it’s such a big deal,” she said.
The grant, sponsored by National PTA and The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences in the United States, was awarded to only nine PTAs throughout the country who serve sixth to 12th-grade students and their families.
The purpose of the grant is to help promote tobacco use prevention. Youth e-cigarette use remains a serious public health problem in the U.S. with more than two million middle and high school students using e-cigarettes in 2021.
McDonough, who has two children attending Mulrennan, said she applied for the grant because she recognized the need to educate students about the dangers associated with vaping, the act of inhaling a vapor produced by an electronic vaporizer or e-cigarette. The liquids that are vaporized, which can contain nicotine and other substances, come in many different flavors and might even smell fruity. E-cigarettes are very small, come in many different shapes and can easily be hidden on a person or blend in with normal backpack items.
“I spend a lot of time on campus, and it’s been a concerning trend to see more students talking about vaping and bringing their vape pens to school,” she said. “We need to educate our students that it’s not safe, not a healthy habit and they shouldn’t be doing it.”
McDonough’s first call upon learning of the award was to the school’s principal, Tamara Brooks.
“She does so much for our school, and we are thrilled to be able to use the money to help our students encourage a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
While details of how they will spend the grant are still being determined, McDonough said, “We want to use the grant money wisely to implement a program that will address these concerns.”
For more information about the National PTA grants, visit www.pta.org.