KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new smoking and vaping prevention program is reaching Knox County 5th graders during their after-school hours. Metro Drug Coalition partnered with SHADES of Development to kick off an important conversation about substance misuse.

Asheton Casey visits with students in the program to teach about the dangers of smoking and vaping.

She’s teaching them an evidence-based curriculum called “CATCH My Breath,” which has been proven to substantially reduce a student’s likelihood of vaping and shown an increase in choosing a vape-free lifestyle.

Casey says her presentations often lead to larger conversations about substance misuse within a child’s family and home. She also focuses on teaching students to use language that destigmatizes substance use disorders.

The time of day when Casey holds these sessions is intentional and believed to be crucial to a child’s positive development.

“Trying to reach students during that afterschool time when that’s a huge part of prevention is filling in kind of the gaps in the time when they are outside of the classroom,” said Casey.

Casey just wrapped up at Brickey-McCloud Elementary and is now teaching at Powell Elementary.

The program is made up of four sessions and she says the goal is to visit 10 to 15 after-school programs this school year.