Q&A: Stacey Walker on the New Canaan Coalition’s Vaping Awareness Campaign


Created in 2020, the volunteer New Canaan Coalition is organized by New Canaan CARES. In this Q&A, we hear from Stacey Walker, education and program coordinator at CARES, about the Coalition’s efforts in the past year-plus to raise awareness around vaping in this community. 

Here’s our exchange.

New Canaanite: New Canaan CARES is hosting a Zoom presentation on vaping at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Before we get into the details, please tell me about this broader initiative through the New Canaan Coalition. What is the Coalition and how did it come to make vaping the centerpiece of its campaign?

Stacey Walker

Stacey Walker: The New Canaan Coalition is the name of the Local Prevention Council for our town. New Canaan CARES is the grant holder for the coalition, which brings together individuals and organizations from throughout the community. We are responsible for increasing public awareness and providing prevention strategies around alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use and misuse focusing on youth. Vaping was chosen based on survey results which show increased usage of vaping devices among area youth, especially during COVID.

How much of a problem is vaping among New Canaan youth?

Given the availability of vaping devices, vaping is a larger issue among our youth than many people may realize. Vaping begins as early as elementary school, even here in New Canaan.

What has the New Canaan Coalition already done as part of its awareness campaign?

Last year, the Coalition, with the support of local merchants, distributed pizza boxes designed by New Canaan High School students with anti-vaping messages. New Canaan teens also created stickers for to-go bags and coffee cups. The anti-vaping campaign was highly successful in utilizing a peer-to-peer model.

What is planned for this year, including this week’s presentation with Culture of Change?

We kick off our campaign at 7 pm [Wednesday] with a presentation on Vaping via Zoom by Culture of Change. Having received excellent feedback last year and knowing how effective the peer-to-peer model is, the Coalition again asked New Canaan teens to design anti-vaping stickers. You will see them starting January 21st on to-go bags and coffee cups from Chef Prasad, Club Sandwich, CT Sandwich, New Canaan Chicken, Press Burger, Rosies, Tony’s, and Zumbach’s. At the same time, CARES High School leadership students will be doing a social media takeover, sharing anti-vaping messaging with their peers and posters designed by New Canaan teens will be featured in the Playhouse window.

What else, if anything, would you like to tell our readers about the New Canaan Coalition’s work?

Research shows that the younger we educate our children on the dangers of substance use, the more likely they are to abstain from these harmful behaviors. CARES and the New Canaan Coalition are available to conduct small group workshops for any organization and invite anyone in the community to contact us to get more involved. You can find more information about vaping on the CARES website, www.newcanaancares.org, or by reaching out directly to me at swalker@newcanaancares.org.

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