Peer mentors to help youths quit smoking

Lions Susan Saunders and Chris Hilliard hand the pack to student Tea Holeman
Lions Susan Saunders and Chris Hilliard hand the pack to student Tea Holeman

STUDENTS are being encouraged to act as peer mentors to help their classmates to give up smoking.

Shoreham Academy has found young people do want to quit cigarettes but most of the help available is targeted at adults.

Psychology teacher Roberta Morris said the school wanted to develop a co-ordinated approach, involving the young people themselves.

She said: “At Shoreham Academy, we have identified that young people do have the desire to quit and this is supported by the recorded high call rates to national telephone helplines.

“However at present, interventions are used that are appropriate for adults, and do not necessarily correspond to supporting young people stopping smoking.

“We are looking to provide a co-ordinated approach driven by peer mentors and the young people themselves, enabling them to take responsibility and make choices.”

Adur East Lions has supported the scheme by donating the latest Lions Lifeskills resource, Up in Smoke, to the school.

Student councillor Tea Holeman received the pack, worth £90, from president Susan Saunders and Lion Chris Hilliard. It contains 10 easy-to-follow, tried-and-tested interactive sessions using a variety of teaching and learning styles.

Ms Saunders said the emphasis was on the benefits of being ‘smoke free’.

Sessions include ‘What do you already know about smoking?’, the effects, passive smoking, ‘Does it cost the earth?’, advertising, women and smoking, and helping someone to stop.

Ms Saunders said: “Evidence shows that the prevalence of smoking among young people increases between the ages of 11 and 16.

“Every day, approximately 450 young people are ‘recruited’ to smoke, which is why this resource is essential for those working with young people.”

The majority of young people do not smoke but the Lions say young people’s perceptions of smoking, as well as alcohol and drug use, are often out of line with recorded evidence.

The theory is that by challenging young people’s perceptions, and correcting their misconceptions, it will have a positive influence on their behaviour.