Teen Communications Institute at Colorado State Teaches Young Women to Use Media in Campaign Against Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs

Some 30 young women will learn the power of the media at Colorado State University this month.

They’ll take up keyboards, TV cameras and microphones to create and produce a media campaign aimed at preventing younger, middle-school students from taking up alcohol, drug and tobacco consumption.

The women, who will be high-school juniors next fall, are from Grand Junction; Ardmore, Okla.; and Silver City, N.M. They’ll be participating in Colorado State’s second Teen Communication Institute.

The week-long institute, which begins June 14, will train participants to produce radio and print public service announcements, radio scripts for disc jockeys, news articles, news releases, posters and scripted presentations with accompanying visuals. The students will then return to their homes to deliver these materials to younger students, parents, teachers and other community members, especially peers.

"A unique aspect of this project is that young women will have the opportunity to localize the campaign and lead it in their own communities," said Kathleen Kelly, associate professor of marketing and head of the institute. "Our goal is to increase the knowledge these young people have of the dangers of alcohol and tobacco use."

"We know they can become effective and influential role models, mentors and leaders for other adolescents in their own communities."

Kelly, who has been directing the project with a $580,000, three-year grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, said the effort was intended to decrease the social acceptability of alcohol and tobacco use among middle-school students. Goals include making non-use normal and acceptable, educating middle-school students about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco and correcting misperceptions about peer behavior involving these substances, said Kelly, who has conducted research and educational programs designed to study and reduce youth substance abuse.

"We intend to empower these young women to take ownership of this campaign and to help them implement it successfully in their communities," she said.