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Lahainaluna Senior Catherine Asami

Lahainaluna HS Senior gives back to her community through Vaping education and prevention

Lahainaluna High School Senior Gives Back to Her Community Through Vaping Education and Prevention 

After completing a presentation on Electronic Smoking Devices at Lahainaluna High School, Leslie Garo, the Maui County Tobacco-Free Coordinator, was approached by a student. Lahainaluna senior Catherine Asami has a passion for educating and spreading awareness about the harms of vaping to her community. As someone who has experienced first-hand vaping problems in the community and school, she wanted to bring more awareness to the topic. As a student-athlete and member of the Lāhainā community, it was important for her to share information with others to help them. She knew she wanted to incorporate this topic in her senior project but wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. She also had connections with local Maui Police Department officers to help her but after meeting Leslie, she was able to increase her knowledge on this issue. Within days, she showed interest in participating in Take Down Tobacco Day. She was one of eleven youth from Maui who took her “free” time during spring break and turned it into an invaluable experience. After meeting with Maui County Senators and Representatives and learning more about e-cigarette use and its harmful effects, Catherine was ready to take the information she learned and share it with her community.

Catherine and her family were directly affected by the wildfire in Lāhainā. However, she persisted through the challenges and finished her senior year by giving back to her community. She presented to students at Lāhainā Intermediate School about vaping education. The students were engaged as a fellow peer educated them on the dangers and health impacts of vaping and even secondhand smoke. Catherine also encouraged the students to stay busy and active through positive hobbies and habits, allowing students to share the positive hobbies they partook in aloud. She emphasized that the students could make a difference in the community and use their voices as she did when visiting the Capitol on Take Down Tobacco Day. 

Catherine left the students feeling empowered and inspired and many had questions throughout the presentation. A staff member applauded Catherine for her efforts at the end of the presentation stating, “It is very hard to present in front of a large audience but you made it seem like second nature. You were also able to keep the kids engaged which is another hard thing to do.” Catherine hopes that her senior project turns into a continuous cycle of education and advocating for positive change for the community and the youth, especially for tobacco-free laws. She plans on going to college but wants to return home to give back to the community once again. 

High school seniors or any youth in 8th grade and up in Maui County who are looking for experience and mentorship on tobacco education or knowledge can contact Leslie Garo at leslie@hiphi.org.

Headshot of Leslie Garo

Leslie Garo

Maui County Coordinator for the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i
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