Local Town Pages - On January 21st, a group of six nine- and ten-year old boys, a Destination Imagination team that calls themselves “The Raw Spaghettis,” became a small group of activists. Their motivation, a sign in a local vape shop.
“We heard that Vape City Smoke Shop, the smoke shop in Holliston, was selling fidget spinners (we thought) and pretty much they were just trying to get kids to vape,” says Matthew Cunis, aged 10.
The electronic sign flashed the messages, “Quit smoking,” “Buy Your E cigarettes,” “Try Vaping,” and “We Sell Fidget Spinners.”
When the kids saw it, their first thought was “Take that sign down,” says Jack Baribeau, a member of the DI team.
Chris Baribeau and Patti Baribeau, who coach The Raw Spaghettis, comprised of five fourth-graders and one third-grader, says the DI team chose the topic “Community Affairs” in preparation for the local Destination Imagination competition, which will take place on March 11th in Bellingham.
“Basically, the requirement was they have to pick an issue that has an impact in the community and try to do something about it a,” says Chris. He had the team start brainstorming, following the DI process. “We talked about drugs and alcohol, talked about the food bank, and even some other ideas like development cutting down trees and more deer in the neighborhood. Then one of the kids said the vape shop was advertising fidget spinners. All the kids got really angry. They didn’t really know what vaping was, but they knew it was a smoke shop and smoking was bad.”
Patti Baribeau, a nurse, sometimes substitutes at Holliston Schools. She says she has discussed the problem firsthand with school nurses. She says vaping devices are being used in class, and they are odorless and can look like pencils or flash drives.
The Raw Spaghettis did their research on the health effects of vaping on kids.
“There’s chemicals in vaping, chemicals found in anti-freeze, Formaldehyde, Propylene glycol found in aircraft de-icing fluid,” says team member Anthony Stucchi, “and one cartridge of has the same nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.”
The boys also found research that suggested vaping could lead to tobacco use and possibly other stronger substances.
“If you have vaping you might want to try more dangerous things,” says Jack Baribeau.
The excited boys originally wanted to stage a protest, but after talking to a one of the team’s fathers, who is a judge, and a local police officer, they decided a protest might be too complicated. Plus, it was cold. They decided to create a petition and hold an event, for which they made posters, at the Adams Middle School to encourage Holliston residents to sign. They would take the signatures to the shop.
On January 24th, the team’s advisors took the petition to the vape shop. The end result?
“We met with the vape shop owner,” says Chris Baribeau. “He agreed to take down the sign, and he was very cordial.”
Kent Braley, Vape City Smoke Shop manager, says he was surprised when presented with the petition. He was more than happy to take down the graphic.
“We have a very strict identification policy; they need to prove with valid ID that they are of age upon entry. The last thing we’d want is to have any of our products designed not for (those) underage to get into underage hands.” His customers, he says, must be 21 years of age or older in order to shop there. As to concerns over kids getting their hands on vaping products online, Braley agrees, “It’s a valid concern. Parents should be well aware that as well as making sure stores are making due diligence, that very few websites will ask for confirmation of age. If (those under age) have their parents’ credit card and they’re determined, it’s possible.”
The Raw Spaghettis will present a skit at the Destination Imagination competition acting out what they did and learned.