How Health and Wellness Outreach Programs Build for the Future: An NTC Case Story

In our multimedia case story, based on a peer-reviewed evaluation report published in Tobacco Control, we go behind the scenes of NTC’s unique K-12 prevention program “2 Smart 2 Smoke,” which brought innovative anti-smoking education to communities in Minnesota. (Running Time: 3:55)

The Content

This NTC case story, consisting of a video and corresponding whitepaper, is about our anti-smoking educational program 2 Smart 2 Smoke, which was delivered to 160 elementary schools around the Twin Cities in Minnesota. 2 Smart 2 Smoke brought a dynamic in-school theatrical performance to students in grades 1-6 along with follow-up activities for use in the classroom and at home. Seventeen schools were also randomly selected by the University of Minnesota department of epidemiology to participate in a more in-depth study involving pre- and post-intervention evaluations to measure students’ knowledge of and attitudes toward smoking both before and after the program. Incorporating storytelling, improvised comedy and audience participation, 2 Smart 2 Smoke used the creative arts to appeal to students emotionally and maximize audience engagement and retention.

During and after implementation of 2 Smart 2 Smoke, University of Minnesota epidemiologist Cheryl Perry and her colleagues conducted an evaluation study subsequently published in the peer-reviewed health journal Tobacco Control. The main findings of Dr. Perry’s report have been highlighted in our NTC case story.

The main points of both the video and the whitepaper include:

  • Goals of the program and the approach used in health education
  • The power of live in-school theatre to engage students and encourage positive behavior change
  • Measurable impacts of the program, using quantifiable data from pre- and post-program evaluation
  • Lessons learned from the program, including the three necessary elements of any successful school-based health and wellness outreach

Our Approach

This case story details the implementation of the 2 Smart 2 Smoke program from conception to follow-up evaluation and is based on the academic report by Dr. Perry et al originally published in Tobacco Control. The goal of the program was primarily to reduce the psychosocial risk of smoking among elementary students, and secondarily to change normative expectations, functional meanings, expected outcomes and attitudes about smoking.

The evaluation study, published by epidemiologists at the University of Minnesota, analyzed data from pre- and post-show questionnaires to measure the impact of an in-school theatre production on smoking-related attitudes, norms and intentions of K-12 students. Both the Tobacco Control report and NTC’s follow-up case story evaluate data to assess the impact of live, in-school theatrical prevention programs and suggest possible approaches to implementing similarly effective health education programs in the future.

We believe audiences learn more effectively if they engage creatively and emotionally with stories and characters. It is this emphasis on the creative arts and the power of storytelling that distinguished 2 Smart 2 Smoke from numerous other anti-smoking programs implemented throughout the country.

Just as our in-school programs embrace the power of creativity by presenting health and wellness education to students in imaginative ways, our case story video uses an innovative blend of animation and live-action to outline the details of the program. It’s an excellent introduction to the full downloadable case story. Both the video and printable supplement provide an overview of this effective program, which can easily be replicated to deliver K-12 educational programs to schools in your community.

Key Takeaways

Intervening at an early age to form positive, healthy habits provides a platform of knowledge for kids to build upon. This makes K-12 health and wellness outreach more important than ever, including anti-smoking education among many other topics. This case story reveals how NTC implemented an effective anti-smoking program and measured its results, based on evaluation data and findings from the peer-reviewed study published in Tobacco Control.

The 2 Smart 2 Smoke program and Dr. Perry’s evaluation imparted many lessons, some of which are detailed in this case story. Among the key takeaways discussed:

  • Combining an array of educational approaches with measurable analysis allows health organizations to maximize the impact of their outreach efforts
  • Presenting students with an opportunity to emulate peers and act in a positive way within the large social group of a school population creates an environment conducive to behavioral change and effective action
  • Comparison of pre- and post-intervention results revealed a change in normative expectations, expected outcomes and attitudes toward smoking for students in grades 1-6
  • This educational model can be replicated and scaled by other health organizations to achieve similar results

Watch the case story video and download the PDF to discover what else NTC learned about delivering a high-impact health and wellness education program to K-12 schools.