Search the Site

August 22, 2023

How a Small Team of 3 Empowers Students to Live a Vape Free Life

As the saying goes, “The best things take time.” This sentiment resonates in the journeys of Desirae Bloomer, Sonya Davidson, and Dan Vivion – three unique individuals who embarked on diverse career paths only to discover fulfillment and eventually converge pathways through their shared passion of substance misuse prevention.

Desirae’s journey commenced with her involvement at the Adair County Sheriff’s Office and Child Protective Services for Adair County Department of Human Services. Day in and day out, Desirae dedicated herself to assisting people who had fallen prey to the negative effects of drugs and alcohol.

Reflecting on her experience, Desirae says, “I’ve been the one to have to take crying children from their parents when there’s an active meth lab in the home or when the parents are passed out cold from being on a bender for days. I’ve seen the shame in people’s eyes as they realize that they’ve allowed their addiction to take the place of their most cherished loved ones. But, one thing I never forgot was that these people once were just like you and me. This is why I’m so passionate about prevention.”

This passion led Desirae to her current position as Executive Director of the Tahlequah BEST Community Coalition where she believes “For prevention education to be successful, we need to work together for the greater good. That’s why I love being a part of Tahlequah BEST.”

BEST is the acronym for Bringing Everyone’s Strengths Together. This coalition’s focus is to bring different sectors of the community together and facilitate conversations on how everyone can provide assistance to one another and create a healthier community. In addition to her leadership role at the Tahlequah BEST Community Coalition, Desirae additionally works as a preventionist for Tahlequah Public Schools alongside Sonya Davidson.

Sonya Davidson’s career kicked off as a substance abuse counselor in a residential treatment facility, which ignited her passion for helping young people overcome their nicotine addiction. Working in tandem, Sonya and Desirae closely partner with Dan Vivion, who transitioned from caregiver and paraprofessional to his current position as a Life Skills Prevention Teacher at Tahlequah Public Schools.

Each quarter of the school year, new 6th-8th grade students arrive in Dan’s ’s life skills class and are eager to discover how they will be involved in the community-wide anti-vaping campaign. Dan guides students daily through a CATCH My Breath lesson and an open discussion. At the end of each week, students are empowered to reinforce what they have learned through creative art projects.

“The students really get involved. We have posters in front of all the middle school bathrooms that promote a vape free life. We have made large posters down to index cards to hand out. The students enjoy being able to promote a vape free life through art,” says Dan.

Tahlequah community members including the school principal, a board member, a school resource officer, prevention team members, and a local restaurant owner, support two student art campaign winners in their prevention efforts.

Desirae adds, “To see the students be creative and so involved in designing these campaigns is very invigorating. It allows for some of the more reserved students to really shine. The sense of pride for these students to see their creation on a billboard in their town is an amazing feeling for them.”

The collective knowledge and wisdom that Desirae, Sonya, and Dan have gained throughout their valuable and diverse career paths offers students a unique support system to safely guide them to resist the pressures of substance misuse.

In closing Sonya shares, “I believe strongly that if we really want to see change in the area of overall health in our communities, we must start with our youth. Our kids have the power to change the world if we can just get them to believe it and get parents involved.”

We applaud the individual and collaborative efforts of Desirae, Sonya, and Dan who are making a difference in the lives of youth and in their greater community.

To join the movement in empowering students to live vape free, click the buttons below to learn more. CATCH My Breath is free for educators, public health professionals, and community leaders with resources available in English and Spanish for parents as well.