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Vaping is banned in schools across New Zealand, but a public walkway through the grounds of Shirley Boys’ High means there is loophole in that law.
As part of an english social action project, students Quinn Andis, 18, Carlos Lancaster-Bartlett, 17, and Daire Bolster, 17, are asking for 'no vaping' signage to be placed on the Christchurch City Council-owned walkway.
Members of the public are often seen vaping on it.
English teacher Rebekah Johnson has run the project for her year 13 students for the past four years.
During the project, students look at different ways they can promote positive policy change in their school, focusing on issues affecting them.
This was the first year a group had chosen to focus on vaping, which is an issue they are seeing unfold first-hand.
Quinn said compared to when they were in year 9, they had seen a huge increase in students vaping.
“It’s gotten so much worse since when we started school,” Quinn said.
“I didn’t even think about vaping back then.”
“And it’s a problem being tackled by youth and schools across the nation,” Daire said.
“It’s a new thing and people don’t really know the side effects yet but we know it’s harmful to young people,” Carlos said.
“Students need to be educated more on what vaping actually is and can do to you.”
Quinn explained their idea was to put down floor decals on the public pathway, clarifying it was a no vaping zone.
“A permanent and bright big sign on the ground is hard to vandalise and hard to miss,” Carlos said.
As part of their project, the three students emailed Mayor Lianne Dalziel and talked to the Coastal-Burwood Community Board.
“The community board liked that we came to them with a solution to a problem,” Carlos said.
Quinn said they are now waiting to hear back from the community board.
Johnson is proud of the students’ work.
“This has become much bigger than just an assignment and a grade. They have gone above and beyond, they’re doing their bit to improve the school environment and community,” she said.
“We hope that other schools will see what we’re doing and take initiative to tackle this issue as well,” Carlos said.
“Rather than taking punitive measures against vaping, it is about using educational tools to teach students.
Said deputy principal Rob Wilson-Pyne: “Vaping is a big thing that all schools around the country are fighting at the moment.”
He said one of the best things about the project was that it was led by students.