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Student winners announced for 2024 Minnesota Escape the Vape Video Challenge

The Escape the Vape Video Challenge, now in its fourth year, had over 500 students from 38 Minnesota schools creating 30-second videos to educate their peers on the dangers of vaping.

Though illegal, underage youth vaping continues to be a problem in Minnesota with 14% of 11th graders and 6% of eighth graders reporting e-cigarette use during the last 30 days, according to the 2022 Minnesota Student Survey.

No amount of nicotine is safe for youth as it is highly addictive and can be toxic. Because the adolescent brain is still developing until about age 25, youth nicotine exposure can increase the risk of addiction to commercial tobacco products and other substances in the future. Nicotine dependence can also lead to poor mental health by worsening symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

“When it comes to youth vaping prevention, peer-to-peer education can be an important tool,” said Maria Sarabia, MDH assistant commissioner. “It’s so important to create space for youth to step up and use their creativity to educate their peers.”

Minnesota students acted through the contest, submitting 232 entries. Middle and high school students served as judges and helped select the 14 finalists. Public voting opened on April 30, and closed May 6. Nearly 1,400 votes were cast to choose the winners for each division. Each first-place winning video will be awarded a $500 cash prize. Their schools will also each receive $500. This year’s winners include:

High School Division

1st place: “Cloudy Friendship” by Michael Perkins, Xavia Stacy, and Isabella Lynn at Redwood Valley High School

2nd place: “Sports Won’t Wait” by Haley Zeledon, Cedric Cusack, and Rae Musicant at Northfield Senior High School

3rd place: “Life without Fog” by Natalie Manley, Lydia Frome, and Jayla Daniels at Eagan High School

Middle School Division

1st place: “Be Smart, Don’t Start” by Samantha Lanners and Katrina Lindstrom at Underwood Public School

2nd place: “Escape the Vape” by Savannah Venner, Kaylee Stokman, Emily Fitzpatrick, and Leah Privet at Caledonia Middle and High School

3rd place: “The Possessing Truths about Vaping” by James Jenson at Hastings Middle School

White Bear Lake Central Middle School, with 101 students entering, wins a $1000 cash prize for being the school with the highest percentage of participating students. This is the second year White Bear Lake Central Middle School has won this prize.

“Escape the Vape has been an exciting addition to our health curriculum here at Central Middle School,” said Michelle Padden, health and physical education teacher at Central Middle School in White Bear Lake. “Before, the conversation was normally initiated in health class or in other education we did with students by adults. However, this project has flipped the script, and students actively talk about the reasons they will not vape and encourage others to do so as well. It is having a significant positive impact on our students and our school culture!”

Here’s what some of student participants had to say about the contest:

“I loved making this video! It brought me closer to my friends while learning about the dangers of vaping!” - Kaylee Stokeman, Middle School Division winner.

“We did the project through our Developmental Psychology class, and I found it fun because I enjoy editing and creating videos.” - Jayla Daniels, High School Division winner.

“I absolutely loved participating in the video contest these past two years. I think that Escape the Vape is an important message and also encourages creativity,” said Allie Cross, High School Division finalist. “It makes learning and teaching about anti-vaping fun! I can’t recommend submitting a video enough, especially for students who are looking to support a positive message and make great memories with their friends and classmates!”

To help young people quit, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) offers My Life, My Quit™, which supports Minnesota teens ages 13-17 in quitting commercial tobacco and nicotine, including vaping. The program is free and confidential. Teens can text to chat with a coach, engage in coaching calls and online chat, and receive youth-specific materials. Teens should text “Start My Quit” to 36072 or visit My Life, My Quit.

Escape the Vape is made possible by MDH in partnership with Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Orthopedics and Oxboro Family Chiropractic.

Watch the winning videos at You can also follow, like and tag the contest on Instagram @jointheescape.

Media can contact MDH to connect with the winners of the contest.



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