STC Underground, the St. Charles Park District’s teen center, has been awarded a $5,000 grant by the Kane County Health Department as part of their Social Norms Marketing Campaign. The grant will be used to develop anti-tobacco use materials aimed at middle school students.
“We are honored to have received this grant from the Kane County Health Department and are eager to work with them on getting this important message out to area students,” said Darby Beasley, Teen Program and Center Director for the STC Underground.
The Social Norms Marketing Campaign aims to strengthen community-based tobacco prevention efforts among the youth of Kane County. As part of this campaign, the STC Underground students will review survey results from a March 16, 2018, Illinois Youth Survey to gauge prevailing tobacco norms among Thompson Middle School students. They will then develop a course of action to address these norms and create a marketing campaign that will be displayed throughout the school. A post-survey will be distributed to identify any notable changes in behavior.
“We want to focus our message on positive behavior,” said Beasley. “The perception among teens may be that most of their peers smoke and this can be a rationalization for them to start. The goal is to prove that the majority of youth do not smoke and to encourage that trend.”
This marks the second Kane County Health Department grant awarded to the STC Underground. In 2015, STC Underground students participated in a statewide program called REALITY Illinois that worked in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Public Health and Kane County Health Department. After conducting a marketing survey to determine the level of public support for a smoke-free parks policy, the STC Underground Teen Advisory Group presented their findings to the St. Charles Park District Board of Directors, resulting in a new policy prohibiting the use of tobacco and tobacco products in all park district outdoor parks, facilities, buildings and vehicles.
“The teens who worked with us on that grant will always know that they went to the Board of Directors who recognized all the hard work they put in on the project and passed a new ordinance,” said Beasley. “We have a newspaper article permanently on display so that they and future STC Underground members can know that their work does make a difference.”
The Illinois Youth Survey is administered by the state every two years and demonstrates a serious commitment by state and local government officials to monitor the current state of social norms, attitudes and behaviors of a key segment of the population.
“We’re hoping this year’s survey analysis will have the same kind of impact as the 2015 project,” said Beasley. “If the community sees that the work these teens are doing has important implications not only for our community but also for statewide initiatives, then that will be something they can be proud of.”
The STC Underground was established in January, 2001, as a safe, professionally-supervised facility open to all middle and high school students ages 11 to 19 residing within CUSD 303 boundaries. Currently, the STC Underground is enjoyed by more than 1,000 members.
For more information on the Kane County Health Department grant and the STC Underground, contact Darby Beasley at 630-513-4321.