Health Canada urges Canadians to “Consider the Consequences” of vaping, and Dima Kulakov has made the slogan his mantra.
Dima chose anti-vaping as his personal project within his International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme studies. He’s tackled the issue with determination and energy, attempting to educate both young people and parents about the impact of vaping.
“Vaping has become an epidemic,” Dima says. “When I was deciding on a project, I thought, ‘Why not make it something I’m interested in and something that will help people?’”
Dima did research into vaping and learned about the consequences and the increasing prevalence of this behaviour – more than one in four teens ages 15 to 19 report having tried an electronic cigarette. His exploration led him to Health Canada’s Consider the Consequences campaign and to a Harvard-trained health researcher, who has become a mentor.
After starting off by hanging posters at both the Prep and Upper Schools, Dima established a social media account to spread the word about the health effects of vaping. But that was only the beginning: he ran an information booth for students and parents on Association Day, handing out Health Canada information sheets and Consider the Consequences bracelets; he applied for and won a grant from Health Canada to bring a medical expert to UCC as a speaker; he brought a Health Canada informational maze to UCC; and he was invited to participate in a youth vaping roundtable discussion with the Ontario Minister of Health.
“I plan to continue my work beyond the limits of my personal project,” Dima says. “I’m definitely learning a lot and I hope my fellow students and parents are, too.”
Fiona Marshall, assistant head of student affairs at the Upper School, calls Dima’s work “exceptional.”
“It takes a lot of courage and shows an enormous amount of conviction and care,” Marshall says.
Carl Beaudoin, Dima’s Year 8 French teacher, serves as his special project mentor at UCC.
“Where Dima has gone with this is probably 10 times what the expectations were,” Beaudoin says. “Think about what he can accomplish in 20 to 30 years. He’s blown me away with his initiative and his effort.”